Product Defects

As disgusting as it may sound, some companies actually know a product is dangerous but feel that it will be more profitable to pay for any injuries in the future.

Companies are “strictly liable” for products that they produce and offer to the public. They cannot make an inherently dangerous product and not expect that they will be responsible for the consequences. The more famous cases over the years involve the exploding gas tanks on the Ford Pinto, and the Bic lighters that were found to be defective and causing unnecessary harm.

crowbarA case that I personally handled involved a brand new crowbar that had been purchased within a week of the accident. The crowbar snapped in two while a truck driver was synching down his load. The sudden loss of tension in the bar caused a bone jarring reaction in the truck driver’s back which ultimately led to surgery with hardware installed in his back. As disgusting as it may sound, some companies actually know a product is dangerous but feel that it will be more profitable to pay for any injuries in the future.

The premier case for product liability in Oklahoma is Kirkland v. General Motors Corp. Bishop v. Takata Corp. sums up Kirkland and the law it stands for:

one who sells a product in a defective condition, which is unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer, is strictly liable for the physical harm to the person or property caused by the defect. To maintain a cause of action under manufacturers’ products liability, the plaintiff must prove the product was the cause of the injury, that the product was defective when it left the control of the manufacturer, and that the defect made the product unreasonably dangerous to an extent beyond which would be contemplated by the ordinary consumer who purchases it. Even if the defect may not have caused the accident, if it increases the severity of the injury which would have occurred absent the defect, the manufacturer is liable for damages for increased injuries attributable to an enhanced injury.

One of the key concepts of products liability is that of “strict liability,” a legal doctrine that makes a person responsible for the damage and loss caused by his/her acts and omissions regardless of culpability. Strict liability also extends through the chain of custody of the product. The manufacturer produces the product. A middle man sells it to a wholesaler. The wholesaler then sells it to a retailer. The retailer then sells it to the ultimate user of the product. Under strict liability law, all parties aforementioned would be equally liable for any injuries from the defective product.

Product liability cases nearly always require examination by an expert in the field of the defective product. In other words, you would need a professional’s opinion that the firework was in fact defective, if you intend on filing a lawsuit.  That professional would need to have education, training and experience in the production of explosives and/or fireworks. Nearly every court would require an expert’s opinion before the case could actually proceed to trial.

Have you been injured by a defective product and need legal help with a claim? Contact attorney Scott L. Tully by email (scott@tullylawfirm.net) or by phone at (918) 872-8800.