Injured by a dangerous product? Things to know about Massachusetts product liability laws.
When deciding what product to purchase, the average consumer considers price, effectiveness, or even the product’s branding. The inquiry rarely extends to whether using the product as instructed will cause bodily harm. Typically, using a consumer good, whether it’s a pressure cooker or a jack stand, will not result in injury, but when it does, you may be able to file a product liability lawsuit.
Massachusetts is a strict liability state. You do not have to prove a manufacturer acted negligently in order to successfully sue it for an injury. A plaintiff does not need to prove the company sued is sloppy or careless. The plaintiff must only show that the product caused an injury when used in the manner for which it was intended.
Although a plaintiff does not need to prove negligence, the claim will need to fall under one of several established product liability categories. The three main types of product liability claims are (1) manufacturing defects, (2) design defects, and (3) failure to warn.
A manufacturing defect claim arises when a product injures someone because of a fault in the manufacturing process. For instance, consider a chainsaw’s chain. If the chain has a link that is not properly joined to the other links because it was not aligned correctly while passing through the machine fixing the links to one another, the chain will be weakened. When a consumer uses the chain on a chainsaw, any injury suffered if the chain breaks would be caused by a manufacturing defect. Strict liability means that the plaintiff does not need to prove the manufacturer was negligent by allowing the chain link to enter the machine improperly aligned, nor does the company’s inspection process need be proved insufficient. The fact that the chain was defective and caused an injury means the company producing it is liable.
A design defect is where a company assembles the product precisely as designed, but it causes injury anyway because it has a dangerous design. For instance, a typical airbag deploys at 100 to 200 mph. The speed with which the airbag deploys can cause secondary injuries, including soft tissue damage, skin contusions, or even broken bones. If a company were to design, produce, and distribute a newly designed airbag that deploys at a slower rate of speed in an effort to avoid the secondary injuries, but due to the slower deployment speed, the airbag is no longer effective in preventing head injuries, the company would be liable for a design defect.
A failure to warn claim arises where the manufacturer fails to warn consumers about a known danger associated with the product. Most safety products designed for small children, such as cribs, highchairs, and car seats, have a number of warnings regarding the proper use of the product, reminding caregivers to not leave the child unattended or unbuckled. Failure to warn claims are also associated with prescription medication. Numerous dangerous drug lawsuits are based upon a pharmaceutical company’s failure to warn of known dangerous side effects when marketing a new drug. Sometimes, the failure to warn is deliberate, in an attempt to sell more of the medication. Purdue Pharma and its medication oxycontin is one such case.
Massachusetts product liability lawsuits can be difficult and expenses to prosecute. Often times, these types of cases require expert testimony from engineers or doctors to establish the danger the product poses. Neumann Law Group advances our clients the costs of litigation, including the fees necessary to secure expert testimony. If you or a loved one has been injured by a product, contact the dangerous product attorneys at Neumann Law Group for a free consultation. You may be entitled to financial compensation.