All manufacturers of consumer goods are legally obligated to make these products safe for ordinary use by consumers. Failure to do so results in products liability. Products liability laws across the United States serve an important purpose. By providing legal consequences for producing a dangerous product, manufacturers have the incentive to make their products as safe as possible before they place them in the hands of consumers. This is why many manufacturers will issue a voluntary recall of a dangerous product before it results in a lawsuit. The Clearwater personal injury attorneys at the Dolman Law Group stay abreast of products liability laws, recent products liability cases in the news, and why it is important for injury victims to hold manufacturers accountable for placing dangerous products in the marketplace.
Every day, vast quantities of consumer goods are sold across the United States. These range from large and pricey items (such as industrial equipment, motor vehicles, or large kitchen appliances) to small, everyday products (such as food, household cleaners, or office supplies). They include products which are known to be dangerous, like chemicals; and products that are trusted to be as safe as possible, like baby toys. Regardless of the type or size of a product at issue, the manufacturer has an obligation to make it safe for ordinary use by consumers who purchase it.
An "ordinary use" of the product is one that is foreseeable by the manufacturer. For example, it is foreseeable that a rubber duck would be placed in warm bath water along with a small child. It is not foreseeable that a rubber duck would be burned for amusement. Thus, a manufacturer would not be liable for dangers posed in that situation (such as toxic vapors released when the product is burned indoors). In general, the ordinary use of a product is the one for which it is designed and marketed.
Manufacturers are not the only companies that can face products liability. Any individual, company, or other legal entity that takes part in introducing a dangerous product into the marketplace can also be held accountable for damage caused by the product. This can include a company that imports foreign goods, a distributor, or the retail store that ultimately sold the dangerous product to a consumer. Determining which companies may be held responsible can be complex, but an experienced products liability attorney will be able to help uncover the proper entities to pursue in a legal action.
Products Liability in the News
Consumer Affairs reports significant increases in dangerous product incidents in 2017. In the first quarter of the year, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission received 141 percent more reports of product injuries, and nearly four times more reports of overall product incidents (including those which did not cause injury). Interestingly, the number of product recalls issued during this same period of time decreased significantly from the prior quarter. This suggests that product manufacturers are not necessarily meeting their legal obligations to protect consumers from dangerous products by issuing recalls when appropriate.
Consumer Affairs also reported on several specific product recall problems. For example, approximately 80 percent of all food recalls reported by the Food and Drug Administration were in the nutritional supplement industry. This may indicate more significant, systemic problems that make many nutritional supplements unsafe. Retailers also had issues with recalls. Best Buy reportedly reached a $3.8 million settlement with the Consumer Product Safety Commission after its management knowingly allowed recalled products to be sold in its stores. This reminds consumers that retailers, too, must be held accountable for keeping dangerous products away from consumers. Even when manufacturers attempt to protect consumers through product recalls, other companies in the stream of commerce must accept responsibility for promoting these recalls in order to protect consumers.
Consumers should stay alert to product recalls which might affect them. It is also important for consumers to be alert to the products that are most likely to cause them harm. Yahoo Lifestyle reports on the household products that result in the most injuries to Americans (based upon data compiled from the Consumer Product Safety Commission). Based upon the average number of injuries per year, these include:
- Porches and balconies
- All-terrain vehicles
- Garden tools
- Ladders and step stools
- Pools and hot tubs
- Plastic containers
- Power tools
- Showers and bathtubs
- Playground equipment
- Manual tools (not powered)
- Doors (not including garage doors)
- Walls and ceilings
- Chairs and couches
- Furniture (not including beds and chairs)
- Bicycles, tricycles, and unicycles
- Carpets, rugs, and other flooring
It's essential that injury victims hold manufacturers, distributors, and retailers accountable for introducing dangerous products into the marketplace. Without accountability, these businesses will continue to profit from products that harm consumers. This is precisely the result that products liability laws are designed to prevent. Manufacturers must be held accountable for these dangers and compensate victims for the injuries suffered because of defective products.
Aggressive Representation for Your Products Liability Claim
When a defective product has injured you or someone you care about, talk with an attorney about your legal rights. Under Florida law, accident victims have legal rights. The attorneys at the Dolman Law Group have several years of experience in protecting these rights. Contact us at (727) 451-6900 to schedule your free consultation with an experienced, aggressive Clearwater products liability attorney today. We fight hard to hold manufacturers accountable for the harm caused by dangerous products and to ensure injured victims recover compensation for their losses.