We expect that the products we buy and use every day will work the way they were intended. From a simple household appliance to a car or a sophisticated piece of equipment, we use these products without a second thought. Throughout the day, we think very little about how they work as we use them.
Companies that sell products in New York have a responsibility to ensure that their products are safe for everyday use. But what do you do if a product doesn’t work right and causes an injury? Is it your fault, or the fault of the product?
Defective Product Liability Definition
New York has a “strict liability” statute that addresses how a defective product liability case is determined.
If a product causes an injury (including death) during use, was not suitable for the purpose for which it was intended, or the risk that comes with using the product outweighs its value, a company can be held liable.
Strict liability does not require the plaintiff to prove fault on the part of the defendant. Therefore, the plaintiff can sue and recover damages for their injuries without the burden of proof that the defendant knew (or should have known) that the product in question was defective.
Although defective product liability is a highly specialized field of law, it covers a range of products including:
- Consumer products, such as electrical appliances
- Cars and other vehicles, with defects such as:
- Safety locks
- Seat belts
- Prescription drugs
- Defective medical devices and equipment (i.e., implants and surgical meshes)
- Contaminated food and food products that cause illness Toys and other items intended for children
- Tools and other equipment
- Unsafe equipment intended for a workplace
- Defective safety equipment
Defects in these and other products can cause injuries as simple as lacerations and bruises, and as serious as broken bones, burns, paralysis, and wrongful death.
Finding The Responsible Party
One example of a defective product is the hoverboard. They were big sellers when they first became available, but companies did not warn buyers about the dangers of these two-wheeled toys. Multiple reports of house fires traced to the hoverboard’s lithium-ion battery led to a series of recalls and lawsuits. Improvements in manufacturing and UL certifications have led to safer products, but they still require a degree of care, such as not over-charging the battery.
Riders of all ages must also follow safety precautions when using one, similar to skateboards and bicycles. This includes wearing a helmet to prevent a head injury and other appropriate safety gear. This information should now be included in any brand of hoverboard sold in the US.
You may believe that you were at fault for your injuries, but that’s not necessarily true. A product that was not properly designed, manufactured, or did not come with proper safety/usage warnings for it can be responsible for injuries.
Because so many products are either manufactured overseas or made from components imported from multiple sources, detective work is required to find the source of the problem. This is especially true with cars. The tires alone can come from a number of different manufacturers, let alone the thousands of other parts that go into the completed product.
A plaintiff may also have a claim if the injury results from the failure by the company to warn about a danger that is not apparent, or from an unintended use that may be reasonably apparent. Proving a product liability claim requires a considerable amount of very technical information and expert witnesses who can pinpoint the exact place and form of the defect.
Once you discover that a product is responsible for your injury, or believe that it did, you will have three years to file a claim against the company. However, it’s important to act quickly before details are forgotten and evidence disappears or is erased.
Multiple parties may be involved in a New York product liability lawsuit, including:
- The manufacturer, for both the product and the parts
- Sales representative
- Hospital or physician who prescribed and/or administered a prescription or medical device
When a defective product results in injuries, it’s important to seek compensation so that you can cover:
- Economic damages, such as lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Other economic losses
If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered an injury or death due to product liability, speak with a personal injury attorney immediately who can assess your case and advise you on the next steps.
Greenwich Village’s Family-Owned Product Liability Law Firm
Defective Product liability cases are just one part of personal injury. That’s why it’s important to find an attorney who knows and understands this type of injury to ensure the best representation, and to obtain a fair settlement for your injuries.
Were you injured by a consumer product you believed was safe to use? Every case is different, and we’re happy to discuss yours. Call us at (212) 777-9400 (or use our online contact form.) Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier is a family-owned personal injury law firm, with more than 26 years of experience helping injured people. Our contingency fee arrangement means we aren’t paid until you are, whether we settle your case in or out of court.