When we buy something, we assume that it wouldn’t be offered for sale if it weren’t safe to use. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Every year, thousands of Americans are injured by unsafe consumer products such as defective children’s toys, unsafe household items, contaminated food and many others.
Our Children Are at Risk
We’ll put faces and numbers on these thousands of Americans for you by focusing on our most vulnerable societal members: kids. Children are most often the ones who suffer product injuries. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has reported that, in 2015 alone, it’s estimated that 254,200 toy-related injuries sent children to U.S. emergency departments. Toy-related deaths for those under 15 totaled 11; 10 of those deaths happened to children under 12. And injuries to children aren’t limited to toys. Other items that can harm kids include car seats, clothing, strollers, and even baby monitors.
It’s estimated that 69,300 injuries in 2014 arising from nursery products required trips to the emergency department. Approximately two-thirds (66 percent) of such injuries were caused by cribs and mattresses, infant carriers, carriages or strollers, or high chairs. From 2010 to 2012, the average annual number of deaths associated with nursery products in those under 5 was 104.
Furniture and big-screen television tip-overs caused a minimum of 363 deaths in the U.S. from 2000 to 2011. Over four-fifths—82 percent—of those who died were under 8 years of age. The annual estimated rate of injuries due to tip-overs treated in emergency departments is 38,000 for all ages.
What Types of Products Can Be Dangerous?
Dangerous products are not limited to those listed above. The kinds of products that can be liable are wide-ranging in function. Some items that have been implicated in injuries and deaths, many of which have been recalled, include everything from cars to drugs to furniture:
The CPSC, the federal agency charged with monitoring the safety of products that we buy and use, recalls hundreds of items each year. It’s been reported that defective products cost America well over $700 billion annually.
An Introduction to Product Liability
What Are the Causes of Product Failures?
Manufacturers have a legal duty not to offer us unsafe products without warning. When they fail in that duty and someone is seriously injured or killed, we have the right to hold them legally and financially responsible for those injuries. South Carolina law defines three ways in which consumers can claim a product was defective:
- Defective design, in which the people who originally planned the product designed a flaw into it, so that every individual product has the same flaw. An example might be the Thomas & Friends wooden train toys recalled in June of 2007 because they were coated with poisonous lead paint.
- Defective manufacture, in which the design of the product is fine, but something went wrong when it was being made. An example might be the famous Firestone tire recall of 2001.
- Failure to warn, in which a product either doesn’t carry any warning at all about potential hazards of using the product or carries a warning that’s not effective enough. Products from hair dryers to glue to automobiles must carry these types of warnings.
Who Can File a Product Liability Claim in South Carolina?
A doctrine called “strict liability” comes into play with many defective product cases. Strict liability enables a person injured by a defective product to sue for compensation, even if it cannot be demonstrated that the product’s seller or manufacturer was negligent. With strict liability, you can often bring a case, even if you are not the original buyer of the product, if all three of the following conditions can be shown to be true:
- That the defective product caused the injury
- That the defective product was used as intended
- That the defective product was not substantially altered.
Government agencies that keep track of defective products and allow consumers to make formal complaints include: the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs.
If you are concerned about a faulty product, you can check for current recalls from the CPSC. Should your concerns extend beyond recalls, we at the Louthian Law Firm stand ready to help you and your family.
Product Liability Attorneys in South Carolina
If you or someone you care about has been injured by a defective product, you have the right to ask the manufacturer for money to cover your medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability or loss. In order to protect that right, you should speak with the experienced product liability lawyer at the Louthian Law Firm as soon as possible. We have 80 years of experience helping injured South Carolinians seek justice, and we’re committed to ensuring that you get the best legal representation possible. For a free consultation, call us today at 1-803-454-1200, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form.