According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, consumer products cause more than $1 trillion in damage every year. Defective products can cause deaths, injuries, and property damage – and in some cases, manufacturers know a product is defective and fail to report it to the CPSC, which is a violation of federal law.
In May 2015, the CPSC fined an office supply retailer $3.4 million for failing to report defects in two office chairs that caused 39 injuries. The CPSC can issue civil and criminal penalties for any seller that knowingly puts people at risk. In many cases, the CPSC has filed criminal charges against businesses that manufactured or sold products known to be harmful to children and infants.
Even though federal laws exist that are supposed to protect consumers, faulty products still cause a great deal of harm in U.S. households.
If you or someone you love has been injured due to a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation. Call our Tennessee Product Liability Lawyers today for a free consultation: (931) 962-1044.
Defining Product Liability in Tennessee and Alabama
According to Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 29-28-105, “A product is not unreasonably dangerous because of a failure to adequately warn of a danger or hazard that is apparent to the ordinary user.” For example, an ordinary user of a lawnmower understands the hazards of its blades and could not successfully allege a claim of product liability for a hand injury if the injury was a result of the user’s reaching beneath the machine.
In order to find a seller liable for a product-related injury, Tennessee law requires proof that the damage arose from the “manufacture, construction, design, formula, preparation, assembly, testing, service, warning, instruction, marketing, packaging or labeling of any product.” The language therefore provides some protections for businesses that unknowingly have a defective product on their store’s shelves.
An opinion from the Supreme Court of Tennessee demonstrates the complexity of products liability cases. The widow of a man who died from mesothelioma claimed products containing asbestos caused his illness, and his exposure to those products occurred in his workplace. She sued the manufacturer of the products, but a jury found that the employer, not the manufacturer, was the party who had a “duty to warn” the employee about the danger of the products. The widow therefore collected no damages in that case.
The supreme court reversed the decision of the lower court and ordered a new trial, stating the jury had incorrectly applied the “learned intermediary doctrine” in reaching its verdict. But that principle applies only in specific types of medical cases.
The learned intermediary doctrine protects manufacturers of medical products and pharmaceutical companies from liability, because a patient’s prescribing doctor – the intermediary – assumes liability and the duty to warn patients of risks.
Product Liability Law and Protecting Children
The Federal Child Safety Protection Act requires manufacturers to put warning labels on toys that explain specific risks about small parts, balloons, marbles, and balls. But other products intended for children and infants may lack oversight, as the CPSC is still developing laws to cover certain products.
The CPSC’s Safety Standard for Carriages and Strollers, effective Sept. 10, 2015, is the first federal law outlining manufacturer responsibility for those products. Before this act, the standards for carriage and stroller manufacturers were voluntary, not mandatory. But the Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act, enacted in 2008, compels the CPSC to develop and institute mandatory rules for certain child products. The act is named for a boy who died when his crib collapsed; his parents later learned the same product had fatally injured four other children before their son’s death.
According to the CPSC, from January 2008 through June 2013, there were 1,297 stroller-related incidents, such as problems with locking mechanisms or structural integrity.
Of those incidents, 391 caused injuries, and four caused fatalities. Adults and children were among the injured.
Pursuing Justice in Product Liability Lawsuit Cases
While many manufacturers strictly follow safety guidelines and inform the CPSC about product defects, it’s clear that some try to skirt requirements or have little regard for consumer safety.
If you or a member of your family has been injured by a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation. Find out if you have a case. Call us today at (931) 962-1044, or contact our personal injury attorneys for a consultation.