Product liability cases are personal injury torts or claims filed by a plaintiff who was injured by a defective product (or the family member/estate of a person who was killed by a defective product).
Most defective product claims are related to manufacturing defects, design defects or marketing defects (inadequate warnings of risks posed by a product or improper operating instructions).
Some products more commonly cause injuries than others. The most common product liability cases are related to:
- Common household cleaning products
- Vehicles and vehicle components
- Medical devices and medications
- Children’s toys
- Household appliances
- Foods and consumable goods
Even Mundane Products Can Be Dangerous
Acetaminophen sends an estimated 78,000 people to the emergency room each year. Approximately 33,000 people are hospitalized due to acetaminophen overdoses annually. Nearly 500 people die as a direct result of liver failure caused by taking too much acetaminophen.
What is this dangerous drug? Acetaminophen is the primary ingredient in Tylenol. One pain management doctor called it, “the most dangerous drug ever made.” A National Institutes for Health study determined acetaminophen was the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States.
Some patients have won lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer or Tylenol, but the number of wins is far lower than the alleged number of injuries and deaths. Between 1994 and 2019, 233 federal lawsuits had been filed over Tylenol. While there are about a dozen of those cases that have been successful, most plaintiffs fail.
Johnson & Johnson can still truthfully claim to manufacture the pain killer most frequently recommended by doctors. When used in accordance with directions and clearly listed dosage guidelines, Tylenol is a safe over-the-counter drug to consume.
Most of the Tylenol lawsuits are related to:
- Patients inadvertently overdosing
- Liver damage
- Misleading packaging
- Bacteria contamination (manufacturing defect)
- Rare drug reactions from mixing Tylenol with other medications
The handful of lawsuits that were successful tend to be rare, one-off situations. Johnson & Johnson has many decades of experience writing warning labels that protect them from liability, and they’re good at it. Those labels generally protect the company from product liability claims.
That doesn’t mean mistakes can’t still occur. For example, one of the lawsuits Johnson & Johnson lost was due to a bacterial infection caused by contaminated children’s Tylenol. Those types of manufacturing defects can happen regardless of how good a company’s warning labels are or how safe the product is under normal circumstances.
Manufacturing defects affect more than just medications. Components in a car can have material defects that might compromise safety features. Although those safety features might not cause accidents, they could fail or provide adequate protection when an accident happens, leading to injuries.
Design defects can affect nearly any type of product, from appliances and children’s toys to tools or professional machinery.
A toy might have small pieces that are choking hazards. This on its own might not be considered a defect, but when combined with improper age recommendations it could justify a product liability case.
Lawsuits related to injuries caused by products for children are among the most common types of defective product cases. Children lack the common sense or self-preservation instincts of adults. For example, an adult knows not to put a battery in their mouth. An infant or toddler doesn’t have those same inhibitions.
If a toy can be easily popped open and the batteries can be removed, it may be a design flaw. It could also be a manufacturing flaw if the batteries can only be reached by breaking the plastic casing of the toy, and the plastic casing is weak due to improperly formulated or molded plastic.
Don’t Ignore Recall Notices
Recall notices can negatively affect your ability to pursue damages if you or a loved one is injured by a defective product. A recall is essentially a warning. Once you’ve been apprised of a danger, your ability to hold the manufacturer liable for injuries the hazardous product causes can be more difficult.
For example, if a car manufacturer issues a recall of a particular make and model for defective air bags, and a car owner ignores the recall and is injured by the defective air bags in the future, the car owner could have trouble winning a lawsuit. The manufacturer can defend themselves by saying they took steps to rectify the situation and the owner continued driving after learning about the defect.
Have You Suffered an Injury in Atlanta?
The personal injury lawyers at the Dressie Law Firm understand how frustrating injuries can be for you and your family. When people or companies injure others through carelessness, negligence or incompetence, they should be held accountable. Call our Atlanta personal injury attorneys at (678) 619-2977 for a free case evaluation.