Experienced Attorneys, Aggressive Representation

St. Louis Product Liability Lawyer

Product manufacturers have a legal obligation to ensure the products they sell perform as advertised and pose no threat of injury to end users in normal use. When product defects cause injuries, victims can often pursue product liability claims to secure compensation for their damages. These lawsuits are often complicated, and many large companies have in-house legal teams on permanent retainer.

When product liability claims involve one-off incidents, an individual lawsuit can prove fruitful. However, some product manufacturers release a large number of defective products without knowledge of the defect potentially impacting many consumers. These situations may lead to class-action lawsuits against the manufacturer. A class-action suit involves many plaintiffs against the same defendant for the same issue and this can be a viable option for plaintiffs who cannot afford the risk of pursuing a claim alone.

No matter what type of product liability case you’re facing, the team at Goldblatt + Singer is here to help. We’ve helped countless plaintiffs in the St. Louis, MO area since 1949, and we want Missouri residents to know their legal options after suffering injuries from defective products.

Understanding Product Liability

Product liability refers to a manufacturer’s liability for placing a dangerously defective product in the hands of consumers. Product manufacturers employ various types of quality assurance protocols to ensure proper manufacturing and compliance with applicable regulations, but many factors can lead to product defects. Missouri follows a strict liability rule for defective products, meaning that manufacturers are strictly liable for the damages their products cause to consumers.

Types of Product Defects

The first step in any product liability case is determining the nature of the defect. Generally, a product can be defective in one of three ways:

  • Defective design. If there is a flaw in the design of the product, every unit will share the same defect. Once a manufacturer learns of a defective design it will typically halt production and issue a recall for units in circulation if warranted.
  • Defective production. A variation in manufacturing materials or equipment could lead to a defect that only affects certain units or unit lots. Manufacturers will work to identify the affected products and remove them.
  • Defective marketing. Manufacturers must accurately represent their products in all marketing materials. This means they must clearly outline the product’s intended uses and include instructions for consumer use. Products must also include all necessary safety warnings, which can include warnings in the instructions as well as warning stickers applied directly to the products.

It’s important to note that some products, like lawnmowers, electric knives and other types of cutlery are inherently dangerous. Since these objects are obviously dangerous, the manufacturer must include a warning of the risk of intended use of the product. If a consumer causes an injury through an unintended use of the product, this does not constitute grounds for a product liability claim. Some products feature “latent” defects or defects that are not immediately recognizable and only arise under certain circumstances or after prolonged use.

Many manufacturers will issue recalls as soon as they identify a defect, typically offering consumers replacements or repairs at little to no cost to prevent lawsuits.

Defective Household Products

Many products can cause serious injuries if defective. For example, John is cooking using an electric pressure cooker, but the device is defective and explodes. John suffers serious burns and a concussion and the blast destroys part of his kitchen. As long as John followed the manufacturer’s instructions and used the product as intended, he can file a product liability claim against the manufacturer. Other household products that can cause serious damages if defective can include:

  • Personal grooming devices such as blow dryers, curling irons and hair straighteners
  • Fire alarms, which can lead to fire damage, smoke inhalation or carbon monoxide poisoning if defective
  • Appliances like dryers, washing machines, dishwashers and air conditioning units. These devices can cause explosions or electrocutions if defective.
  • Power tools
  • Cleaning products. Many household cleaning products are toxic when ingested or when they come into contact with the eyes or skin. Manufacturers must include very clear, readable warnings for these hazards.

Countless products are capable of inflicting serious injuries and causing expensive property damage if defective.

Defective Toys and Children’s Products

Manufacturers of products for children and babies must exercise an even higher degree of care during the development, manufacturing and distribution stages of these products. Children lack the caution and judgment of adults, so “childproofing” is essential on many of these products. Parents should be very careful when it comes to buying toys and other products for their children. Always check the recommended age range for any toy or children’s product before allowing it to come into contact with a child.

Some children’s products include batteries or electronic components that can cause fires, electrocutions, toxic exposure or other injuries if defective. It’s essential for parents to carefully select products for their children based on consumer reviews and manufacturers’ reputations. Other risk factors include:

  • Toys with sharp edges or sharp points
  • Toys or objects with small parts that can present a choking hazard
  • Toy guns or other projectile-based toys like airsoft rifles
  • Products that use heat, electricity or batteries
  • Products that include toxic substances, paint or other potentially hazardous materials
  • Products with cords or strings that pose a strangulation hazard
  • Defective cribs or baby beds
  • Defective car seats or strollers
  • Electronic toys with lithium-ion batteries. Poorly made lithium-ion batteries can explode when overheated and also pose a toxic exposure risk.

An injury to a child is a serious matter and parents can research whether any class-action lawsuits exist for a particular brand or product.

Proving a Defective Product Caused Your Injury

Succeeding in a product liability claim is relatively straightforward. The plaintiff generally must prove the product in question is defective and that the defect caused the plaintiff’s damages. The plaintiff must also prove that he or she used the product as intended and followed the manufacturer’s instructions. Unlike personal injury lawsuits, the plaintiff does not need to prove the defendant was negligent in a product liability case. In some cases, the burden of proof will effectively shift to the defendant. The defendant will then need to prove he or she met their obligations as a manufacturer and was not negligent.

If a product manufacturer failed to warn consumers of a known risk associated with intended use of a product, the manufacturer is liable for any resulting damages. Plaintiffs in product liability lawsuits can claim several types of damages. It’s essential for potential plaintiffs to retain all documentation and evidence pertinent to their claims, regardless of whether they intend to join a class-action lawsuit or file an individual lawsuit.

Damages and Compensation in Product Liability Claims

Generally, plaintiffs in product liability lawsuits can claim economic and non-economic damages depending on the type of damages experienced from the defective product. Most product liability claims will lead to compensation for:

  • Medical expenses. The plaintiff can sue for the cost of treating injuries caused by the defective product. This applies to immediate expenses such as ambulance fees and hospital bills as well as the cost of necessary treatments or long-term care.
  • Lost income. If a defective product injury forces the plaintiff to miss work, he or she can sue for the wages lost during that time. In the event a defective product causes a catastrophic injury that prevents the victim from working in the future, the victim can sue for the lost wages he or she would have reasonably expected to earn had the injury not occurred.
  • Cost of disability. If a defective product injury permanently alters the plaintiff’s lifestyle, he or she can sue for the associated expenses. For example, a plaintiff who requires a wheelchair after a defective product injury can sue for the cost of installing a wheelchair ramp.
  • Property damage. If a defective product damages the plaintiff’s personal property or home, the plaintiff can claim compensation for the cost of repairs or replacement.
  • Pain and suffering. Plaintiffs can claim compensation for the physical pain and mental distress they experience from a defective product injury. Missouri does not cap pain and suffering damages except in medical malpractice cases, so this type of compensation is often the most substantial in a product liability case. Pain and suffering damages typically reflect the plaintiff’s medical expenses, so a plaintiff claiming $10,000 in medical expense compensation could expect $30,000 or more in pain and suffering compensation.

Winning Your Case

Any product liability claim carries the potential to escalate into a complex legal battle between multiple entities. No matter what type of situation may unfold, any plaintiff in a product liability claim will have a much better chance of securing compensation with the right attorney.

The team at Goldblatt + Singer includes St. Louis personal injury attorneys with backgrounds in several areas of the law and this allows us to provide each of our clients with individually-tailored representation. Client recovery is always our top priority, and our attorneys have the experience and resources to explore every available avenue of compensation on behalf of our clients. We won’t shy away from litigation against a large company, and we can also help coordinate your claim with a class-action lawsuit already in progress. Contact us in St. Louis, MO today to schedule a free consultation so we can start investigating your case today.

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