Product manufacturers owe it to consumers to produce products that are safe to use. This means that they must take care when manufacturing items they will sell to users to make sure that they design the products to be safe, that they follow the proper manufacturing process, and that they include warnings and instructions with the product. If they make any mistakes in this process and their product injures you or a member of your family, you might be entitled to file an injury claim.
Rice, Murtha & Psoras ’s Maryland lawyer for injuries caused by a manufacturing defect might be able to help with your case. Our personal injury lawyer offers free consultations where we can sit down, examine how your injury occurred, and help you determine whether you have a case against the product manufacturer, seller, or distributer.
For help with your potential case, call us today at (410) 694-7291.
Types of Manufacturing Defects and Product Injuries in Maryland
Product manufacturing defects can occur in any type of product on the market. Auto parts, pharmaceuticals, power tools, home appliances, electronics, and even children’s toys can have dangerous defects that make the product unsafe for consumers. Typically, the law allows injury victims to sue for the harm they suffered even if the manufacturer took extra efforts to try to keep their products safe because injuries like this are unacceptable. Manufacturing defects that can lead to an injury lawsuit typically fall into one of three categories, which might change what you need to prove in your injury case:
Design Defect Injuries
If you were injured because a product had a dangerous design, you might be entitled to file a lawsuit. Product manufacturers have to pay attention to how their products are designed and take into account how consumers are going to use the product. If they design a support to be too thin, a product could break; if they design an edge to be too sharp, users could be cut on it; and if they fail to put common-sense safety mechanisms into their products, users could get seriously hurt. Proving that a design was defective usually means pointing to a problem that any product from the same manufacturer would have. For instance, an airbag housing that shatters into shrapnel when used could have the same design across all airbags in that product line, and any airbag would show this same dangerous design flaw. This means you can typically use any product from the same manufacturer and product line as evidence to show the jury the dangers of the design defect.
Manufacturing Defect Injuries
A manufacturing defect usually refers to a problem with a product that was not supposed to be there. Manufacturing defects usually come from a product where the design is not at issue, but the factory or manufacturer made a mistake that caused the product to become dangerous. This kind of mistake can come from a manufacturer substituting an inferior material, damaging the product during assembly, or missing a piece altogether. If you were injured by a manufacturing defect, the same defect might have occurred in other items that came out of the same factory at the same time, but it is usually important to save the specific product that injured you. Your product might have been the only one with that defect, and it is important to use your defective unit as evidence of what the defect was and how it injured you.
Failure to Warn Injuries
This kind of defective product injury case could involve either of the other two types of defects. However, the issue with a failure to warn case is not that the defect occurred, but rather that the manufacturer did not warn you about it. A manufacturer’s instructions should help you use a product safely, and the instructions and packaging – or stickers on the device itself – should warn you of potential dangers. If they failed to let you know about a potentially dangerous issue with the design or did not warn you of injuries that could occur if there is a broken or missing piece, the manufacturer could be held responsible for your injuries. There is typically no need to warn trained consumers, and there may be no duty to warn consumers if a trained intermediary takes on the responsibility of warning you, such as a doctor telling you about a drug’s side effects. Additionally, some products like knives and saws have obvious dangers that the manufacturer might not need to warn you about.
Suing for Manufacturing Defects in Maryland
Whichever type of defect caused your injuries, you might be entitled to file a products liability lawsuit for your injuries. These cases are usually filed against the manufacturer of the product, but they might try to deflect the blame to the seller or the distributor instead. Your lawyer can help ensure that the case is filed against the proper parties. These claims usually work under one of two theories: negligence or strict liability. If you were injured because the manufacturer failed to use the proper care and skill in designing and assembling the product, you may be able to hold them responsible for any injuries that their negligence caused. In some cases, the manufacturer’s care and skill play no part in your case, and you can hold them strictly liable for selling you a defective product. Your lawyer can help you determine which type of case you have and how to progress with your claim.
Examples of Vehicle Manufacturers Being Sued for Manufacturing Defects
There are several vehicle manufacturers that have been successfully sued because of manufacturing defects. The defects at issue have varied significantly in terms of severity and impact.
Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company has faced several lawsuits related to manufacturing defects in their vehicles. One notable case involves the Ford Explorer rollover lawsuits, which occurred in the early 2000s. Plaintiffs alleged that design flaws in the vehicle’s tires and suspension made the Explorer prone to rollovers, resulting in accidents and injuries. Ford settled many of these cases by compensating affected individuals and making design modifications to improve the safety of their SUVs.
General Motors (GM)
General Motors has also encountered legal challenges related to manufacturing defects, including the high-profile ignition switch recall in the mid-2010s. This defect involved faulty ignition switches that could cause the engine to shut off while driving, disabling airbags. As a result, accidents occurred, leading to many injuries and fatalities. GM faced numerous lawsuits from affected individuals and their families, ultimately resulting in substantial settlements and recalls.
Toyota faced a lawsuit in the late 2000s and early 2010s as the result unintended acceleration issues in some of their models. Drivers reported incidents of sudden, unintended acceleration, which led to numerous accidents and fatalities. Investigations revealed problems with the company’s electronic throttle control system. Toyota was sued by affected individuals, and they reached settlements to compensate victims for the harm they sustained.
Volkswagen found itself embroiled in the “Dieselgate” scandal in 2015, one of the most significant automotive scandals in recent years. It was revealed that the company had manipulated emissions data in its diesel vehicles to meet environmental standards. However, in reality, the vehicles were emitting excessive pollutants, resulting in environmental damage and health concerns. VW faced numerous lawsuits from consumers and regulatory agencies for false advertising and environmental violations, leading to significant financial penalties, recalls, and a tarnished reputation.
While not a vehicle manufacturer, Takata Corporation, a major airbag supplier, faced lawsuits because of defective airbags that could explode when deployed, leading to injuries and deaths. Multiple automakers, including Honda, Toyota, and Ford, were affected because they used Takata airbags in their vehicles. Accordingly, these automakers were named in lawsuits as well. The defective airbags prompted massive recalls, high-stakes lawsuits, and tiresome efforts to replace the faulty airbags in millions of vehicles.
Chrysler (Now Stellantis)
Chrysler, which is now part of Stellantis, has also faced lawsuits over various defects in some of its models. These defects ranged from transmission issues to problems with ignition switches and airbags. The specific lawsuits and their outcomes varied depending on the nature and severity of the defects in each case. Chrysler has worked to address these issues through recalls, settlements with affected parties, and improvements in their manufacturing processes to prevent future defects.
Damages You Can Recover After Suffering a Manufacturing Defect Injury in Maryland
If you suffer an injury as a result of a manufacturing defect in a product, then you may be entitled to various types of damages. These damages are designed to compensate you for the losses and hardships you have endured as a result of your accident. During your free case review, our Maryland personal injury lawyers can evaluate which of the following may be available:
First, you may recover payment for medical expenses such as hospital bills, doctor’s fees, surgery costs, prescription medication, physical therapy, and any necessary medical equipment. These expenses can be substantial, especially in cases involving severe injuries.
If the manufacturing defect injury prevents you from working, then you may be eligible to recover lost wages. This includes the income you would have earned had you not been injured. Lost wages also encompass benefits, bonuses, and other compensation you would have received if not for the injury. Further, if the injury results in a long-term or permanent disability that affects your ability to earn income in the future, then you may recover payment for your diminished earning capacity.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages are non-economic damages that compensate you for the physical pain and emotional distress you experienced because of the manufacturing defect injury. This includes the pain, discomfort, and emotional anguish caused by the injury, as well as any loss of enjoyment of life. Calculating these damages can be a complicated process, and the value of these damages may vary based on the severity of the injury and its impact on your life.
Out-of-pocket expenses encompass any additional costs directly related to the injury that you have incurred. This can include expenses for transportation to medical appointments, home modifications or accommodations for disability, and any other costs that you would not have incurred if not for the injury.
In some manufacturing defect cases, the product defect may cause damage to personal property. For example, a vehicle defect may cause you to incur damage to your car. In such a case, you may be eligible to recover the costs of repairing or replacing your damaged property.
Punitive damages are not always available in personal injury cases but may be awarded in cases where the manufacturing defect occurred because of a manufacturer’s gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar behavior in the future.
Call Our Maryland Product Injury and Manufacturing Defect Lawyer
If you or a loved one was injured because of a defective product, contact our Maryland lawyer for injuries caused by a manufacturing defect. Rice, Murtha & Psoras represent personal injury victims in Maryland and their families in lawsuits against product manufacturers and other companies involved in the manufacturing process, and we work to hold them responsible for dangerous product defects and injuries. For a free legal consultation on your potential case, call us today at (410) 694-7291.