The law provides different statutes to protect the consumer from products that because of their design cause bodily injuries.
The Uniform Commercial Code (a federal statute) allows one to sue the manufacturer or distributor of a defective product if it violates the breach of warranty statute. The injured party has four years to start a lawsuit and their attorney must prove through experts that the manufacturer or distributor put into commerce, a product that because of its design causes bodily injuries. Part of this proof can involve the “failure to warn” about possible injuries or death if the product is not used properly or in a certain way.
General Motors and other automobile manufacturers went through and still go through many law suits involving the design and crash worthiness of their vehicles. An exaggerated example was in the 1960’s when the Corvair (rear engine) vehicle could catch on fire when hit from the rear by another vehicle. It is through this type of litigation that forces manufacturers to not only think of the cheapest way to make a product but, the safest way to avoid litigation.
Another legal theory by which an injured party can sue a manufacturer or distributor of a product is called “strict liability in tort” which requires that the product put into the stream of commerce was being used for the purpose it was intended for and because of a defect in the product, causes bodily injuries to the user and the injured party has three years to start such a litigation.
Manufacturers and distributors are required to ensure that their products are not defective or dangerous to users. These companies must provide adequate warnings if any part of their product is unsafe, or in using the product in a certain way, may be hazardous to the user’s safety.
In New York, a person who is injured, or the family of a person who had died as a result of a defective product can file a products liability claim. The injured party or the family of the decedent can sue if the product was dangerous when it left the manufacturer’s control; the product left the manufacturer with no warning or an improper warning; or the product did not indicate the risk of using the product. The claim is that the product (car tires, drugs, machinery) functioned as it was designed, but that the design was negligent. The manufacturers should have known the design of the product was defective or that the design of the product was defective and that it was foreseeable that the design could cause injury or death to the user of the product. (i.e. 1960’s Corvair catching on fire when hit in the rear).
The case must be proven through engineer expert witnesses. This engineer must prove that the product was defective and the design engineer must file an accepted design or report recognized by all design manufacturers in reducing the possibility of the dangerous condition which causes injury or death. These cases include theories that the product must be guarded against if possible. A warning must be given if the dangerous condition of the product can cause injury or death (i.e. drug warning of side effects). These cases include a flaw in the manufacturing process and that flaw resulted in a dangerous condition that made the product defective and caused injury or death.
The most common product liability cases are brought under three theories: negligence, strict liability or breach of warranty.
If you or a relative have been injured as a consumer by a defective product and have sustained serious injuries, call the law firm of Dominick J. Robustelli & Associates, PLLC at (914) 288-0800.