Every year, thousands of consumers sustain serious injuries from defective products. Many of these injuries could be avoided if the manufacturers or distributors of these products took additional steps to ensure consumer safety. Thus, product liability cases not only serve to compensate an injured consumer, but they also provide incentive for manufacturers and distributors to increase product safety, in order to avoid potential liability.
Generally, a person who has been injured by a defective product should seek compensation from not only the manufacturer of the product, but also all other entities responsible for placing the defective product on the market. The damages a consumer is entitled to receive may include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of physical capacity
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish
- Punitive damages, in certain contexts.
Nevada Product Liability Claims
A consumer who has been harmed by a defective product may bring numerous claims, but typically such claims include negligence, strict liability and breach of warranty. For example, here are the elements that must be shown to prove negligence or strict products liability:
1) Defendant owed a duty of care to plaintiff;
2) Defendant breached that duty;
3) The breach was the legal cause of plaintiff's injuries; and,
4) Plaintiff suffered damages.
Strict Products Liability
1) Defendant placed upon the market a defective product;
2) Plaintiff's injury was caused by the defect in the product; and,
3) Such defect existed when the product left the hands of defendant.
Proving the Defective Condition of a Product
Under either the negligence theory or strict liability, the term "defective" usually means that the condition of the product is "unreasonably dangerous" to the consumer or to his property. Products can be unreasonably dangerous due to 1) manufacturing defects, 2) defective designs, or 3) inadequate instructions or warnings.
1) Manufacturing Defect
A manufacturing defect occurs when the manufacturer fails to make the product in accordance with plans and specifications set forth for the product. An injured consumer may have a cause of action if that manufacturing defect caused his or her injury.
2) Design Defect
A design defect occurs when the entire line of products produced by the manufacturer is unreasonably dangerous. Generally, a balancing test is used to determine whether the product is unreasonably dangerous. This test weighs the utility of the product's design against the danger that it poses. In some cases, a plaintiff will offer proof of a "safer alternative design" that the manufacturer could have used which would have prevented the injury.
3) Inadequate Warnings Or Instructions
A manufacturer or distributor of a product is required to provide consumers and users with sufficient information regarding the danger involved in operating, using, maintaining or cleaning the product. In order for instructions or warnings to be adequate they must be conspicuous and completely warn the consumer of the degree of risk involved in failing to abide by the warnings or instructions. The lack of adequate instructions or warnings may render a product defective even though the product was not otherwise flawed.
In cases involving inadequate warnings, the presumption is that if an adequate warning had been given then the consumer would have read and heeded the warning.
Under product liability law, an injured party must prove that the product was defective. Therefore, lawyers typically have potentially defective products inspected by one or more qualified experts to determine the exact nature of the defect. If an allegedly defective product is not recovered, an injured consumer may be left with no proof that the product was defective.