Have you been harmed while using your favorite product? Did a prescription drug cause adverse side effects and long-term pain? Regardless of the product or drug that you were using, you have certain rights as a consumer that were created to protect you from unnecessary injury or harm. If you have been injured by the routine use of a product, you may be able to seek financial compensation and justice through a product liability claim.
As a society, we have faith that the products we see on the shelves are safe for use and consumption. Occasionally, however, a product can be extremely dangerous and even deadly for consumers. Everyone from the product designer to the manufacturer, distributor and store manager has an obligation to consumers to make sure that their products are safe, and there are several ways that product liability law may be violated.
First, a product is considered defective according to West Virginia law unless it is “reasonably safe” for its “intended use”. Second, there are three types of defects in product liability law that a consumer may pursue a claim for: design, manufacture and use (failure to warn). Thirdly, West Virginia courts have recognized a cause of action for strict liability in product liability cases.
The three product liability theories discussed above each require proof of certain elements, and you must be able to show substantial proof in order to be successful with your claim. When you call a West Virginia injury attorney at Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC about your situation, you will have legal guidance and quality representation through each step of this legal process. We have extensive experience in handling these types of cases on the behalf of individuals and families, and we have provided some helpful information about the three main liability theories below.
Over the years, U.S. state and federal courts have used two different tests for design defect cases: the risk-utility test and the consumer expectations test. The risk-utility test asks whether a product’s design reasonably balances the risk of the harm and the costs of reducing that risk. A reasonably prudent manufacturer would balance these risks when designing the product. The consumer expectations test examines whether the product at issue conforms to consumers’ reasonable expectations or not. In order to win a defective design case, you must be able to prove that the product was not reasonably safe for its intended use due to a defective design feature that caused your injury.
These types of defects happen when a product comes off the assembly line in a substandard condition. These cases must include proof that the product was defective due to a manufacturing defect present at the time when the product left the manufacturer’s control. Additionally, you must be able to prove that this defect was what caused your injury. In some cases, however, it is impossible to determine the precise nature of the defect; and in these cases you must provide evidence that shows a malfunction in the product occurred that would not ordinarily happen.
Failure to Warn
This type of product defect is one of the most difficult to prove and it is necessary to enlist the help of an attorney who can gather the necessary evidence for your claim. Also known as the “use defect”, a failure to warn claim arises when a product may be safe as designed and manufactured, but becomes defective because of the failure to warn of dangers which may be present when the product is used in a certain way. Examples of this type of claim may include a child’s toy that did not include a warning label about a choking hazard. Keep in mind that manufacturers only have a legal duty to warn of risks that arise from anticipated uses of a product. These warnings must be easy to understand and readable.
Additionally, you must be able to prove that either negligence or strict liability played a role in your injuries. Negligence involves proving that the manufacturer owed the consumer a duty to design/manufacture/warn regarding the product, and that the product was defective thereby breaching that duty, and that the breach of the duty proximately caused your injuries. While negligence is a viable cause of action in these cases, strict liability and breach of warranty are more commonly used to prove these types of injury claims.
Over the years, people have suffered injury because of a vast number of products and pharmaceuticals. Some of the most common types of product liability claims that our firm handles are ones involving dangerous drugs. When you think about the countless numbers of drugs that are released onto the market every year, it is no surprise that some of these drugs are not adequately tested in regards to potential side effects. Drugs such as Yasmin, Xanax, Yaz, Celexa, Avandia and more have been found to pose specific risks to patients, and you may be able to seek compensation for injuries.
Defective product cases are also some of the most common types of claims that our firm handles throughout West Virginia. Our legal team will carefully review your injuries and what you were doing when the injury happened to determine if a design defect, manufacturing defect, or failure to warn issue was to blame. Above all, we understand how to protect your rights and pursue the best outcome for you and your loved ones. Contact Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC today to learn more about your legal options and to start your case!