Every family has a klutz. You know, that person who just can't open a box of cereal without giving himself a black eye. When the family butterfingers does himself some minor damage while using a product the result may be the general amusement of the household but in most cases that is the end of the matter.
However, sometimes an injury or even death can be the direct result, not of the user's awkwardness but of a design flaw or manufacturing defect in the product itself. Other accidents can be caused by the failure of the manufacturer to supply crucial information or instructional oversight which would include a ‘failure to warn' users of potential danger.
Extreme Warning Labels
In an effort to stymie any possible defective or dangerous product liability claims, some manufacturers and suppliers take the ‘failure to warn' criteria to heart with ever more ridiculous instructions and warning labels, some of which become immortalized in each year's Wacky Label Award content run by Center for America.
In 2007 the Grand Prize winner was from a washing machine manufacturer who felt it necessary to advise their customers, “Do not put any person in this washer.” Other mind-boggling examples from this year include the child's ride on push-toy which carries the legend, “Do not push vehicle while child is riding on it”, and the ominous, “Get rid of children” declaration on a cell phone battery booster.
These amusing examples of extreme warning labels may have risen out of a the rather litigious reputation of the product liability section of personal injury law but there is nothing evenly vaguely funny about real injury or wrongful death resulting from using a product the way it was intended only to have it blow up in your face or burst into flames.
Product Liability in Washington and Oregon
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. Anyone who has suffered physical injury, loss of earnings, loss of a loved one or in some cases, emotional distress due to an incident involving a product is entitled to seek compensation and there is a specific section of personal injury law that deals with product liability.
As we have mentioned elsewhere on the website, personal injury laws differ from state to state. The same is true with product liability. For example while both Washington and Oregon have a statute of limitations on product liability cases of two years from the date of the injury, Washington imposes a 12 year statute of repose while Oregon limits the statute of repose to only eight years.
In essence, wherever the case is located, for a product liability case to succeed you must be able to prove that the product in question was a) defectively manufactured, b) poorly designed or c) that there was insufficient information on proper use or handling or a failure to warn of potentially harmful side effects or aspects of the product.
Injury inadvertently sustained while using a product as intended does not qualify as a personal injury under product liability law. For example cutting a finger when using a kitchen knife to chop vegetables is unlikely to be the result of poor manufacture, design or instruction. On the other hand if the knife blade snapped while chopping carrots and a fragment became embedded in your hand, then it may be that there is indeed a design or manufacturing flaw.
Products Causing Injury
Any item that has been purchased and put to use as intended by a consumer can form the basis of a product liability claim if that item causes harm. It is in fact quite alarming to see just how many everyday products do cause an injury to consumers. A visit to the website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission gives an insight into the extent of the problem and brief overview of some actual product related hazards and injuries – for example:
The stroller has a folding mechanism which has been shown to cause injury. The company has received eight reports of injury including one partial fingertip amputation, one broken finger and severe finger lacerations.
Compensation for Product Related Injury
Should you be the victim of a product related injury you want to know that the lawyers handling your case have experience in product liability cases in the state in which you will be bringing the case. At the Vancouver, Washington, law firm of Schauermann Thayer Jacobs Staples & Edwards PS, we have many years of experience working with consumer laws and statutes protecting workers and consumers exposed to risks that could have been avoided through proper product testing, adequate warnings and safety labels, and other means.
We also call on engineers and other experts capable of evaluating products and providing credible testimony on the cause of product failures. We are prepared to take action against manufactures, including large international corporations and can provide a free case evaluation if you have been injured, or tragically lost a loved one, and believe a dangerous product was the cause.
Click here to find out more about product liability and defective and dangerous products.