Everyone has purchased defective products at one point in their lives. In most cases, the problem is that they don’t work and you have to return them and get a working product or your money back. However, in some cases, defective consumer products can do you harm, such as a smartphone that explodes in your pocket. In this case, the injured person has the right to seek financial compensation for the medical expenses and other economic and non-economic losses they suffered. If you’ve been injured by a defective product, the team of experienced product liability attorneys at Kelly & Associate is ready to help you understand your legal rights and prepare your personal injury claim.
What Is the Legal Definition of Defective Products?
If you want to win your case, you must make sure that it complies with product liability laws in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This means that you have to demonstrate that you were injured by a defective product. The law has strict terms that define such a product:
- defective by design – when the product is used as the producer intended, it can cause bodily injuries
- defective by manufacturing – an error during the manufacturing process makes the product dangerous to use
- inadequate warnings – the producer did not provide warning labels for dangerous products (for instance, fireworks)
One of the most important aspects to remember is that you have a case and can file a product liability lawsuit if you used the product as it was intended. For instance, if you bring a barbecue indoors and you suffer smoke intoxication, the producer is not liable, because their product is intended to be used outdoors.
What Are the Most Common Types of Products that Cause Injuries?
In our experience as personal injury attorneys, most of the product liability cases include:
- medical devices (including pacemakers)
- consumer electronics
- heavy machinery
- pharmaceutical products
- children’s toys
- motorized vehicles
Relevant Massachusetts Laws Regulating Liability for Defective Products
The Massachusetts product liability legislation covers two key aspects: the producer’s duty of care towards consumers, and the consumer protection laws. The first aspect is also known as “Warranty of Merchantability” and is covered by the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Chapter 106 Section 2-314. This legal text states that, in order to be marketable, goods must be, among other things:
- fit for the ordinary purposes they are intended to
- properly contained, packaged and labeled
- carry implied warranties
Consumer rights are defined and detailed in Chapter 93A of the General Laws. This chapter covers all the relevant aspects, from breach of warranty to deceptive practices and the level of protection granted by the law to consumers.
The gist of these legal texts is that you suffered an actual injury due to a defective consumer item or other products, you have a valid negligence claim against the producer and other persons and legal entities. With the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney, injury victims can file a lawsuit to recover the medical costs, plus other damages.
How Do You Prepare a Successful Defective Product Liability Claim?
Product liability lawyers know that in this specific situation, personal injury law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts applies the strict liability principle. This means that you do not have to demonstrate that the producer owed you a duty of care. A reasonable level of care is implied by the requirements of the Warranty of Merchantability.
What you need to prove if you were injured by dangerous consumer products is that:
- you used the product as it was intended
- you suffered a product-related injury
- the injury caused you economic losses
Your personal injury lawyer will explain to you that you have the right to obtain financial compensation both for purchased and rented or leased products. Also, as an employee injured at work by a defective machine or device, you still have the right to sue under product liability laws. Although you are not the property owner, the producer should have known that the respective device was intended to be used by a person.
Who Is Liable in Defective Items Claims?
The potential claims in a case involving personal injury caused by manufacturing or design defects can be filed against several entities:
- the producer of the product
- the distributor
- the retailer/ leasing company
Your product liability attorney will identify all the responsible parties who breached the reasonable care they owed you. In some cases, retailers and distributors may use the defense that they received the product in a sealed container and, therefore could not know that it was defective. However, these are technical aspects that an experienced personal injury attorney can deal with competently.
A Special Warning Concerning the Discovery of a Defect
In order to win a product liability lawsuit, it is imperative to prove that you had not noticed that the product had a defect, i.e. a visible defect. In a ruling given during the 1980s, in the Correia vs. Firestone Tire Rubber Co. at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the judge ruled that since the plaintiff continued to use the product after discovering its defect and its associated danger, they had no right to receive compensation.
What You Must Do in Order to Maximize Your Chances of Winning the Case
Big manufacturing companies, wholesalers and retailers will always try to fight product liability claims. Each of them has a powerful insurance company, whose claims adjuster will do their best to limit your compensation amount or even get your case dismissed.
These are important steps to follow if you were injured by a defective product:
1. Seek Medical Care
Your health and safety are of paramount importance, so call 9-1-1 and seek medical care or go to a hospital if you are in a condition to do so. Apart from making sure that you receive proper treatment, you must be able to prove in court that your injuries were caused by the defective product. The medical report prepared by healthcare professionals will detail the nature and potential cause of your injuries.
2. Make Sure You Have the Purchase Receipt/Lease Agreement
You only have a claim under product liability if you can prove that you are the owner/lessee of the defective product. If you cannot produce this piece of evidence, you stand little chances of winning the lawsuit. At any rate, you need to have the proof of purchase for consumer goods at least during their warranty period.
3. Do Not Negotiate Your Claim on Your Own
Insurance adjusters will sometimes come with an amount of money and say that they want to make sure you are quickly compensated for your injuries. Do not fall for this tactic! The amount you will receive is just a fraction of your actual losses, for which you deserve compensation, including: hospital bills, medical treatment, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, etc. However, once you accepted the deal and signed for the compensation amount, you no longer have any legal right to pursue further compensations.
4. Hire an Experienced Product Liability Attorney
At Michael Kelly, you will find a team of dedicated, experienced, and compassionate personal injury attorneys. We know how to handle product liability cases and will fight for each client to get them fair compensation.
We encourage you to contact us for a free case review as soon as possible after suffering injuries due to defective products: 1-800-LAW-GUYS!
If you suffered injuries caused by a defective product, an experienced product liability attorney in Boston is ready to help you prepare and win your personal injury lawsuit!