Defective Products – Product Liability Attorneys in Mobile, Alabama
When you purchase or use any product, you do so with the expectation that it is going to work correctly and not cause you harm. Unfortunately, thousands of people are injured by dangerous and defective products that they thought were completely safe.
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury from using a product in the manner intended, you may be able to pursue a claim for compensation. The experienced Alabama defective products attorneys at Hedge Copeland, PC, will review your case and explain your options.
Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.
Dangerous and Defective Products Cause Serious Harm
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, roughly 29 million people are injured, and over 22,000 are killed each year because of unsafe and defective consumer products. Nearly 80% of all defective product injuries involve children under the age of 15, and 45% involve children under the age of 5. 74,000 children each year suffer injuries severe enough to warrant an emergency room visit.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) is federal legislation that is meant to make consumer products safer. Passed in 2008, the law creates more requirements for documentation and testing of consumer products and imposes stricter fines for violations.
Defective Products Cases We Handle
Even with regulations in place, people still suffer injuries and lose loved ones through no fault of their own. Hedge Copeland, PC, represents injury victims and their families in a variety of defective products matters. Some of the most common include:
- Children’s Toys & Products– Infants and small children are incredibly vulnerable, which can make these cases tragic. A designer and manufacturer must produce safe products for children as well as include the proper warning labels on items for different age groups.
- Contaminated Food– When someone consumes contaminated food, they can become seriously ill. Cases might involve improper packaging, preparation, or storage of food.
- Industrial Machinery & Tools– Although most industrial machinery is dangerous, manufacturers are responsible for creating safeguards and adding warning labels.
- Flammable Clothing– Roughly 4,300 people annually suffer injuries caused by flammable clothing. Even though flame-resistant fabric isn’t a requirement, many of these injuries are preventable.
- Vehicles– Motor vehicles are complex pieces of machinery, and there’s a lot that can go wrong. A small design or manufacturing defect could result in a serious accident, injuries, and loss of life.
- Household Products– Household product designers and manufacturers must create products that are free of defects and safe to use.
Facing Off Against Large Companies
In the event that a defective product leads to injury, determining who is responsible can be challenging. Designers, manufacturers, retailers, marketers, and others who play a role in getting products into the hands of consumers may hold some liability. Product liability laws permit an injured person to seek compensation for damages, which might include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
In most personal injury cases, you are required to prove negligence to prevail. But, in defective products cases, the “strict liability” legal doctrine applies instead. In short, you won’t have to prove negligence but will need to show that:
- The product was defective, and the defect made using it hazardous;
- You or your loved one used the product as intended, and it wasn’t altered from the condition it was in when purchased;
- You or your loved one was injured while using the defective product; and
- You or your loved one suffered damages.
In many cases, our seasoned products liability attorneys will face off against major companies who are backed by large insurance companies and legal teams. These are complex cases that require extensive investigation as well as expert testimony.
We often consult with engineers and safety experts to understand product defects and design flaws that may have caused your injuries. Through our investigation, we will seek to prove your case in one of three ways:
- Defective design– The designer failed to reasonably engineer a safe product taking into account the potential uses for the product.
- Manufacturing defect– The manufacturer produced a product that was inconsistent with the design.
- Failure to warn– The manufacturer or retailer failed to produce instructions for using the product safely or give adequate warning of any hazards that weren’t obvious.
Injured by a Defective Product?
If you believe your injuries resulted from a dangerous or defective product, your actions just after the accident could have a profound impact on the outcome of any future legal action. Immediately following an accident, you should take the following steps to safeguard your rights and health:
- Seek immediate medical attention– Your wellbeing should come first, so seek medical attention directly after an accident even if you aren’t sure about the severity of your injuries.
- Keep the product– While you should never do anything to put yourself in further danger, it’s a good idea to keep the defective product in your possession whenever possible. This can be used as physical evidence in your case.
- Avoid fixing any defects– It might be tempting to fix whatever is wrong with a piece of machinery, but avoid altering a defective product after an accident.
- Assemble documentation– Begin putting together documentation, such as purchase and maintenance records, owner’s manuals, and photos of the accident scene.
- Consult with a knowledgeable attorney– You don’t have an unlimited amount of time to make a claim, and evidence or witnesses might disappear. Don’t delay in seeking legal advice about your options.
Third Parties that Could be Responsible for a Vehicle Accident
When an employer provides a company vehicle for an employee to drive, or the employee drives a personal vehicle during working hours while performing occupational duties, the employer is on the hook for any auto accidents the employee might be responsible for. This relationship often comes into play with commercial truck accidents in which the driver is employed by the trucking company.
Sometimes the employer/employee relationship is not as clear-cut, such as when a commercial driver is classified as an independent contractor. In some of these types of cases, it might turn out that the driver actually meets the technical definition of an employee, making the company liable for the accident.
If a person who owns or has control of the vehicle lends it to someone that they know is unfit to operate the vehicle safely, it might be possible to hold the owner or lessor liable for an accident caused by the driver under the legal theory known as negligent entrustment. An unfit driver could be someone who is unlicensed, inexperienced, incompetent, has a medical condition (such as epilepsy) that puts them at greater risk of a seizure, is intoxicated or has a history of drunk driving, or has a history of driving recklessly.
Vehicle Product Makers
Some auto accidents result from a vehicle defect that creates a hazard during the course of driving the vehicle. For example, if the vehicle owner just installed a set of brand-new tires and one of those tires blows out while traveling down the highway, then they may be able to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer, distributor, or any other party within the product’s supply chain. The same would hold true for other vehicle failures, such as a computer dashboard malfunction or newly installed brakes that fail to stop the vehicle.
A passenger could sometimes be held liable for a crash if their actions contribute directly to it. For example, if a passenger in the front seat grabs hold of the steering wheel and causes the car to collide with another vehicle or object. This type of situation is most common with teen passengers or passengers who are intoxicated.
Like most other states, Alabama has laws in place (known as “dram shop” laws) that allow an injured party to go after an individual or place of business that provides alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated. This situation most often occurs when a bartender serves drinks to someone who is already clearly drunk and then that person drives their vehicle away from the establishment and gets into an accident.
To prove liability in a case like this, you need to have clear and convincing evidence that the person who was served alcohol was already intoxicated. This will most often include the testimony of witnesses and any video footage that might be available.
Contact an Experienced Alabama Defective Products Attorney
If a defective or dangerous product has seriously hurt you or a loved one, the attorneys at Hedge Copeland, PC are committed to helping you seek justice by holding the right parties accountable.
Our defective products attorneys have extensive experience in the court system throughout the Mobile area, and we will put our knowledge and resources to work on your behalf. You never pay us a fee for services unless we win your case. Contact our office today at 251-432-8844 or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation.