Virtually any type of product can cause injuries to a consumer, a worker, or another user if it is defective. The defect may involve an error in making the product or a safety flaw in its intended design. In other cases, a failure to include appropriate instructions or warnings can result in accidents and injuries. Products liability claims arise especially often in certain industries, such as the health care industry and the auto industry. Some common types of defective product cases are discussed further below.
Pharmaceutical companies often rush their products to market without fully testing them for dangerous side effects. They also sometimes market their products aggressively, glossing over potential risks associated with them. A drug manufacturer may be liable if it failed to adequately test a drug, or if the labels or warnings associated with the drug did not cover key side effects. Unfortunately, harm caused by defective pharmaceuticals can be life-altering or even life-threatening. Consumers sometimes also can pursue a medical malpractice claim against a doctor who improperly recommended a medication that involved an excessive risk.
Defective Medical Devices
Like injuries caused by pharmaceuticals, injuries caused by a problem with a medical device may be related to a doctor’s medical malpractice.
Similar to defective pharmaceuticals, defective medical devices can severely undermine a patient’s quality of life. Examples of medical devices that have led to products liability lawsuits include hip replacements, transvaginal mesh, pacemakers, and various forms of implants. These cases often are based on design defects, such as a failure to account for the natural decay of a device inside the patient’s body. If a company intentionally concealed problems with a device, a patient may be able to seek punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. A patient also may want to investigate whether the injury arose from a problem inherent to the device or from a doctor’s improper installation of the device, which may mean that the doctor is liable for medical malpractice.
The most common cause of car accidents is driver error, but auto defects play a role in many crashes. If you were involved in an unexpected single-vehicle crash, for example, you may want to investigate whether your car suffered from a mechanical defect. If you find out that your car or a component has been subject to a recall, you should make sure to bring it to a dealership for repairs. Most auto defect cases are based on a manufacturing defect or a design defect in a car, rather than a failure to warn. Some components of cars that are especially prone to defects include airbags, seat belts, brakes, and tires. In contrast to individual drivers, auto makers and parts makers can be held strictly liable for a victim’s injuries even if there is no proof that they acted carelessly. This is an advantage of bringing a products liability claim after a car accident.
Defective Products in the Workplace
If you have been injured on the job by a defective product, you probably can pursue workers’ compensation benefits through your employer. However, this may not be your only option. You also may be able to bring a claim against the manufacturer of the defective product. Since the manufacturer is not your employer, you would be able to pursue forms of compensation from the manufacturer that go beyond workers’ compensation benefits. For example, you could get full rather than partial replacement for your lost income, and you could get compensation for your pain and suffering. (Your employer or its workers’ compensation insurer might seek reimbursement for benefits through subrogation.)