A product liability case occurs when a manufacturer sells defective products to customers. The manufacturer is liable for any injury or harm that occurs due to a defective product. Sellers in the distribution chain are also held responsible for defective products.
Products sold to customers must be safe according to the ordinary expectation of customers. While there is no federal product liability law, product liability claims are based on state laws. Product liability cases are filed in the court on the basis of breach of warranty, strict liability, and negligence.
Who is Responsible in Case of Injury Due to Product Defects?
The doctrine 'res ipsa loquitur' applies to product liability cases. Translated as 'the thing speaks for itself', a plaintiff is not required to prove that the guilt of the defendant if the doctrine is invoked. Instead, the defendant has to prove that it was not responsible for the defective product.
Another rule that applies to a product liability claim in many states including Ohio is of strict liability. The plaintiff does not have to prove that the defendant acted negligently. Negligence means that the manufacturer or the seller failed to take due care to ensure that the product is free of any defect. To receive compensation from the defendant, the plaintiff only has to show that the product was defective.
How Product Disclaimers Affect Product Liability Cases?
Manufacturers usually use product disclaimers in the attempt to absolve any blame for the injury. They use disclaimer statement in the terms of policy, instruction manual, and sometimes as warning labels.
However, product disclaimers in itself do not upend a product liability case. They only alert customers about the potential hazard of using the product. The manufacturer is responsible for any known defect or hazard that they knew or would be 'reasonably expected to know'.
Manufacturers and sellers should test products for safety before selling them to customers. They must make sure that there is no defect in the product that can cause injury or death. Simply stating a product disclaimer does not protect the manufacturer from a product defect lawsuit.
Regardless of whether there is a product disclaimer statement, you can make a claim against the manufacturer of a product in case the following conditions are valid.
1. The product had a defect that was 'unreasonably dangerous'. The defect can occur during design or manufacturing. It can also occur during shipment and handling.
2. You got injured due to using the product in a way it was supposed to be used.
3. The product has not changed significantly from the time it was sold. By significant, it means in a way that the product performance or use is affected.
When a Product Disclaimer Protects a Manufacturer?
A product disclaimer can be used as a valid defense if the injury happened not because of a defect, but failure to follow the instructions. If the instructions were clearly written and highly visible, you won't have a strong case if you get injured due to not following them.
For instance, suppose you get an electric shock due to using a hairdryer in the bathroom. In this case, the manufacturer is not liable for the injury if the instruction manual and the warning clearly stated that the product should not be used in wet conditions. A court will likely reject your claim for compensation from the manufacturer.
Another case when a product disclaimer will protect a manufacturer from liability is when a product disclaimer is part of a written contract. If you have signed a contract that contains a disclaimer clause, you won't likely be able to claim compensation in the court. In such as a situation the disclaimer has been properly bargained for and is considered to be valid.
While written contracts are not common when selling goods to consumers, some manufacturers insist that the customer sign a contract. This is particularly the case for higher priced or custom products. Also, products made by local craftsman including handmade products can involve written contracts. If the contract contains a disclaimer, you won't likely win a product liability case against the manufacturer.
Negligence on part of a manufacturer is essential to prove a product liability case. A product disclaimer on itself cannot absolve the responsibility of the manufacturer or seller in case of an injury due to a defective product.
You should hire a personal injury attorney in case you or someone you know has been injured due to a defective product. By filing a personal injury case, you will be able to get compensation for injuries sustained when using the defective product. You will be able to recover lost wages, medical costs, as well as the cost of pain and suffering by filing a personal injury case.
The fact is that product liability cases are complex. Proving the guilt in case of a product defect is not that easy. It requires detailed case analysis, evidence gathering, testimony from experts, among others. If you are thinking about filing a product liability case, you should get the help of an experienced personal injury attorney in Ohio.
At Christopher Jackson Law firm, we have a team of highly experienced personal injury attorneys. They can offer a free initial consultation regarding your case. You will know whether you have a strong case worth pursuing after getting feedback from our personal injury lawyers. We can walk you through the entire legal procedure for filing a case in the court. We can also inform you whether a product disclaimer can affect your product defect claim.
You can contact us for an initial, no obligation consolation for your product liability case. We can guide you in meeting court requirements for a product liability case. Our highly experienced attorneys will help you to increase the chances of a successful case outcome.