As a consumer, you have the right to expect safe products in the marketplace. While product manufacturers and others should make sure that their products are safe before bringing them to market, not all of them do. In many cases, this is because these companies are looking to maximize their profits at the expense of consumers’ safety.
When defective or dangerous products injure people, holding the negligent manufacturer or seller responsible can be the key to victims’ financial recovery.
At Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A., our attorneys are dedicated to helping injured people protect their rights and stand up to the companies that make, distribute, or sell dangerous and defective products. Our lawyers are skilled at handling complex product liability cases and bringing them to the best possible resolution.
What is considered a defective product?
A product can be considered defective if it turns out to be unreasonably dangerous when used as intended. In a product that is legally defective, some type of error or weakness in the product’s design, manufacture, or labeling and marketing causes that product to be harmful to consumers.
If someone is injured when using a product in a way that was clearly not intended by the manufacturer, however, the product may not be considered defective. For instance, if a baby crib collapses while a child is sleeping against the crib railing, there is a good chance that the crib is legally defective. However, if the same crib collapses when an adult stands on the crib railing to hang a picture, the crib might not be ruled defective because when it failed, the product was not being used as intended.
Types of product liability
Who can be responsible in a product liability case?
In many cases, several different parties in the chain of the product’s distribution could be held accountable for harm caused by the defective product. Before determining who can be held responsible for injuries however, a product liability attorney must first ascertain the type of defect that led to the injuries.
If the problem was that the product was so poorly designed it could never be made safe, then the designer of the product could be held responsible, along with the manufacturer who produced the product despite the dangerous design. If the design was satisfactory but the product was made incorrectly, the manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer could be held liable. If the product caused harm because it was marketed for a particular use but failed when used as advertised, then the company that produced the marketing materials could be held responsible. Under South Carolina’s product liability laws, the seller of a defective product can often be held liable for injuries resulting from the product’s use, regardless of the type of defect.
When is a class action lawsuit appropriate?
Product liability lawsuits can be filed alone, or as part of a class action if the defective product injured a large number of people in the same manner. In a product liability class action lawsuit, a small group of people will represent upwards of thousands of people who have suffered similar injuries.
Filing or joining a class action may be appropriate when the amount of damages each plaintiff receives would be nominal and where the potential value of an individual suit would not outweigh the legal costs involved. A class action lawsuit is not normally used when consumers have suffered severe or unique injuries.
What is product liability negligence?
Negligence is a legal term that holds one party accountable for harm suffered when that party fails to fulfill a duty owed to others. In product liability cases, manufacturers and retailers can be negligent in a number of different ways. For example, a manufacturer might assemble a product incorrectly or a seller might damage the box and destroy the instructions for safe operation.
However, under South Carolina’s strict liability standards, someone injured by a defective product may not need to prove negligence as long as they can show that the product caused their injuries.
What are the limits to product liability?
One of the most important limits to be aware of if you were injured by a defective product is the time limit to file a lawsuit for compensation. South Carolina requires a product liability claim for injuries to be filed within three years. However, depending on the situation, that three-year period may not start running until some time after the injury occurred. In certain situations, a consumer may not immediately be aware of their injuries or the connection with the defective product. When that happens, the injured person may have three years from the time they should have discovered the problem to file a lawsuit.
Other limitations to product liability claims involve use of the product. If someone is injured while intentionally using a product incorrectly or if a consumer observes a defect but unwisely chooses to use the product anyway, they may not be eligible to recover for the harm they suffer.
How Negligence Contributes to Product Defects & Malfunctions
Defective and dangerous products can end up in consumers’ hands as a result of various forms of negligence, including (but not limited to):
- Failing to identify poorly designed products that could create risks to the public
- Failing to inform consumers about how to use (and not use) products
- Failing to test the safety of products before distributing and selling them
- Failing to warn consumers about the potential dangers associated with products
- Using unsafe or toxic materials to make products
The Products Liability Practice at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A.
The Columbia defective products lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. have extensive experience helping consumers injured by defects in products such as:
- Children’s toys and furniture
- Medical equipment and devices
- Recreational equipment
- Foods and beverages
- Vehicle equipment
Because proving liability can be challenging in a product liability case, our lawyers are prepared to retain expert witnesses, as well as investigators and others who can explain the evidence, issues, and negligence involved. We work hard to craft the strongest possible products liability case for our clients.
Compensation for Defective Product Injuries
The compensation available in product liability cases will vary according to the extent and severity of the injuries suffered, as well as the nature of the negligence and other factors. In general, however, those injured by dangerous products could receive compensation to cover:
- Loss of consortium (depending on the nature of the injuries)
- Lost wages and reduced future income
- Medical bills and future treatment costs
- Mental suffering
- Property damage
If a situation involves serious wrongdoing, it may be possible to seek punitive damages in a product liability case as well.
Contact a South Carolina Products Liability Lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A.
If you have been injured by a defective or unsafe product, contact a Columbia personal injury lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. to find out more about your best options for financial recovery. Since 1993, our lawyers have been committed to protecting the rights of injured people and helping them obtain the justice and compensation they deserve.
Call our firm at (803) 674-4977 or contact us online to set up a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our lawyers. During this meeting, you can learn more about your rights, as well as how we can help you.
From our six office locations throughout South Carolina, our attorneys provide the highest quality legal services to injured people and families in Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout South Carolina.