Product Reviews from a Scientific Perspective

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Lawsuits on defective products

In case something goes wrong with your product..

The general law of the land (and by which I'm talking about the United States) goes by strict product liability.

Now, this doesn't mean you can sue every single time the product in question causes some kind of damage. What it means is that you can sue every distributor that ever carried that particular defective product that caused you damage. So if Clear Care was manufactured by CIBA Vision, sent to K-Mart, and the product had a defect that burned your eyes, then both CIBA Vision and K-Mart can be sued.

Now, you can't sue regarding just anything. There are two types of defects. One is a manufacturing defect, and the other is a design defect.

The manufacturing defect is an easy one. Basically, if the particular product is somehow different from all the rest, and that difference caused the damages, you can sue. 

The design defect is a different one. Most states look at the entire product, and ask the question whether the design that allowed the damage to occur in the first place was worth the benefits of the entire design. Basically, was there a way to make the product safer? Sometimes if you fix a particular problem in the design, it'll actually make the product less safe overall. Different states have different tests, and some look at whether the average consumer would have expected a certain degree of safety, and whether that standard was met. In any case, there's generally a balancing act; on one hand is the overall safety and effectiveness of the product. On the other hand is the particular risk of that design and the damage it does. 

Now, a company can be liable for not only for any predictable problems from the product's proper and intended usage, but also the product's unintended or improper usage! So a person who misuses a product can actually sue the company that design it!

"So why can't I sue Clear Care manufacturers CIBA Vision?" you might ask. Let's say you burned your eyes because you thought that the bottle was just regular contact lens solution, and you gave a nice squirt straight into your eyes, and burned them! It's a misuse of the product, but that's covered, right?

Well, it turns out that they've covered their butts. How? Because they had a warning label.

Generally, the law presumes that if you could have put a warning label down, consumers would have followed it (unless shown otherwise). But when there's a warning label, your only hope is to convince the judge or jury that the warning label was still inadequate to warn of danger. 

Of course, all of this is very general. Each individual state determines its own particular laws regarding defective products. So, you might be thinking that you've wasted your time reading this article...and to a certain extent, you'd be right. But at least you know a little better as to whether it'd be worth contacting a lawyer in the first place, and whether you even have a chance at winning. As for the rest of us who aren't out there to sue, we can be rest assured that, as long as there isn't a warning label on the product, the product is most likely safe to the best of the manufacturer's knowledge. (Emphasis on "most likely").

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your post.
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