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Most American consumers labor under the false notion that there are ample safeguards in place to prevent injuries from products purchased from U.S. retailers – either in brick and mortar establishments or online. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Hundreds of products sold to unsuspecting buyers are recalled regularly – (click on the link for government recalls at the end of this article to see the extent of the problem) and, often, only after many people have been harmed.

So, what is product liability? It is the legal responsibility a manufacturer incurs for producing or selling a faulty product. While that sounds simple and straightforward – it, unfortunately, often proves to be anything but – instead presenting as complex and confusing.
Here in the U.S. product liability claims are usually based on strict liability, negligence, breach of warranty or the various consumer protection rights afforded to the buyer through American laws. However, he majority of product liability laws are determined at the state level and these can and do have a tendency to vary widely among the states.
Moreover, every type of product liability claim carries prerequisites of differing elements to be proven in order for the case to be successful.
The three most common types of product liability lawsuits are:

* Defective Marketing.
In these cases the plaintiff makes the claim that the manufacturer did not provide inadequate instructions or warnings with their product. This is important because generally every company should have a legal duty to provide clear safety instructions that are easily understood by the general public as well as to incorporate any warnings as to the dangers of using said product. One example is to inform users of an electric product that it should be kept away from water sources – such as a curling iron should not be placed by a sink.

◦Defective Manufacturing.
Is a second type of product liability – and far and away the more common. It occurs when a faulty manufacturing procedure results in a defective product even if it initially has a safe design. A perfect example of this occurred with hip replacement products. At first, they were considered to be a ‘miracle’ cure for patients who had been struggling with the simple act of walking do to the toll arthritis and other problems of aging caused. But soon after the surgery many patients began to experience ‘agonizing complications. An investigation uncovered the allegations that the manufacturer had been negligent in its processes – preferring to a save a ‘few dollars’. In the end, it was the patients that suffered – and more than one product liability suit has been filed and won because of it.

*Defective Design is the final cause of product liability we will consider – and as its name implies – the flaw can be found in the design of the product itself. This, too, is a common cause of consumer injuries and the responsibility rests solely with the designer as they have a ‘due diligence’ to create safe products. Product designers owe the buying public the assurance that their item has been properly tested – which may be great in theory – but certainly not in reality. If the defect is found after it has been sold on the open market then the company from which it originates must issue a recall of the product. An example of product design defect lawsuits would be the GM in-cab gas tank pickup trucks or side saddle pickup tanks which exposed the occupants to unreasonable risks of fire in some accidents.

A quick perusal of the link provided at the end of this article will confirm that it seems nearly impossible for the consumer to keep track of all recalled items – because the list is so long!

Gregory Baumgartner is a personal injury lawyer and also the founder of the Baumgartner Law Firm, call us for a no obligation consultation 512-348-6768.

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