Boston Product Liability Lawyer
A product can become defective at any stage of its manufacture, beginning right from the design to the marketing of the product and delivery to the customer. Sometimes, a defective product simply does not do its intended job, and customers are left disappointed. However, other times, defective products can become dangerous. When unsuspecting customers use defective products, they could be injured or even killed. it is the responsibility of the product’s manufacturers and retailers to ensure the product is safe for customers. When they fail to fulfill this duty, injured customers can file products liability lawsuits.
A defective product is often unknown to the customer. Defective products become extremely dangerous when the defect compromises the safety of the product. For example, if a car is sold with defective brakes, the unsuspecting driver would be unable to stop their car and cause an accident. it is possible to hold manufacturers and retailers responsible for placing defective goods on the market. In many cases, defendants can be held strictly liable for your damages, even if they were unaware of the defective product.
If you were injured from using a defective product, you deserve to be compensated by the people responsible for placing the product up for sale. Our Boston product liability lawyers can help you get justice. Contact the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 977-6647. Call us today to set up a free, private legal consultation.
Common Product Liability Cases in Boston
One of the biggest misconceptions about product liability is that a product must have a manufacturing or production defect in order to be considered defective. Defects can enter the product even during the design or marketing stages. Determining which type of defect applies to a plaintiff’s case can be difficult. A Boston products liability lawyer will be able to accurately determine whether a plaintiff was injured because of a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or a marketing defect.
The product may be designed badly for the purpose for which it is to be used. In such cases, a product is determined dangerous by design. For instance, a toy designed for children aged 3 years may come with small detachable parts, constituting poor design. The following questions will be considered when determining whether a product was dangerous be design:
- Did the company know about the risk and sell the product anyway?
- Was a safer design available?
- Would the product achieve the same results with a safer design?
- Would the safer design be cost effective?
- Would the benefits of the safer design outweigh any additional costs?
Some items are flawed because of mistakes in the manufacturing process. Unlike items with design defects, items with manufacturing defects would have been safe had they been put together correctly. Strict safety codes and regulations are required in manufacturing facilities to ensure products are not defective. Lack of inspections of manufacturing facilities and a less-than-stringent production safety code mean that many products produced might not be completely safe. Some of the most dangerous products manufactured and used by American consumers are toys and other children’s products.
A product can also be considered to have a marketing defect if it does not come with specific instructions about its use. This means that consumers may use the product incorrectly, possibly exposing themselves to the risk of injury. Products must also be stringently tested before they are released into the market. Strong testing can reveal defects before the product is introduced to consumers.
Last but not least, a product is also considered to have a marketing defect if it lacks adequate warnings about its use. For instance, if a product is generally harmless but must not be used in a particular situation to avoid raising the risk of harm, consumers must be made aware of this.
Boston courts will award compensation to plaintiffs injured because of marketing defects if all of the following criteria are met.
- The company knew or should have known about the danger in their product.
- The company failed to warn consumers of the danger, whether by attaching warning labels or adequate instructions.
- The victim was hurt because of the missing warnings.
Marketing defects may be the most difficult to prove. Injured parties may contact a Boston products liability lawyer to determine whether they were injured because of a marketing defect.
Determining Liability in a Boston Product Liability Case
In any transaction, there may be different warranties, which are like guarantees that a product will perform in a certain way. Many warranties are explicitly guaranteed by the manufacturer or seller. Other warranties are implied based on the circumstances of the sale. One type of warranty never needs to be stated because it always exists, no matter what. The implied warranty of merchantability applies in every transaction and is the basis for most product liability claims. This warranty cannot be waived, and if the defendant breaches it, they may be liable for your injuries and damages.
Implied Warranty of Merchantability
The implied warranty of merchantability is found under Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 106, § 2-314 and applies to all goods and products sold in Massachusetts. According to this warranty, goods and products must meet certain standards to be considered legally fit for sale:
- Goods must be acceptable within the relevant trade. If industry standards impose specific safety requirements, a product must at least meet those standards.
- Fungible goods must be of at least fair and average quality.
- All goods must be fit for the purpose for which they are sold. If a person buys a lawnmower, it must be fit for safely mowing the grass.
- Merchantability must exist evenly across all products involved in a transaction. In a bulk order of 500 chainsaws for a lumber company, each chainsaw must be equally as merchantable as the rest.
- Goods must be adequately packaged and labeled as agreed upon by the buyer and seller.
- If the container is labeled with any promises or affirmations, the goods within must conform to those promises.
Depending on what kind of product is sold and the circumstances of the sale, these criteria may be applied somewhat differently from case to case. Not only that, but the implied warranty of merchantability does not prevent other implied warranties from arising in your case. If any of the above criteria are not fulfilled by a good or product, the seller or manufacturer could be liable for any injuries caused to the customer.
Proving an Implied Warrant of Merchantability Violation
Plaintiffs must follow a specific process to prove an implied warranty of merchantability has been violated. The following four elements must be established to succeed in breach of warranty of merchantability claim.
- The defendant was a merchant as defined by law.
- The product was sold/leased.
- The plaintiff used the product as intended.
- The product was defective.
- The plaintiff was injured because of the defect.
Accordingly, there are many details to remember surrounding the implied warranty of merchantability. Understanding these details is crucial to the success of any claim. Navigating a products liability case that involves the implied warranty of merchantability can be very difficult without the help of a Boston products liability lawyer.
Who Can I Sue in a Products Liability Action in Boston?
When filing a product liability lawsuit, nearly any person or business within the chain of distribution could be a potential defendant. This means anyone from the design of a product all the way to the sale could be sued and held liable. However, the most appropriate defendant will depend on the nature of the defect in your product. Whom you decide to sue may also be influenced by that potential defendant’s ability to pay.
Possible defendants in a product liability action include manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers, among others. If you believe any of these people should have caught the defect in your product, you could include them in your lawsuit. However, depending on your case, it might make more sense to go after one or two particular defendants than everyone within the chain of distribution.
For example, suppose you purchased a lawnmower from a hardware store, and that lawnmower was designed so poorly that the blades flew off and severely injured you. It might make more sense to sue the manufacturer in charge of creating a safe design rather than a wholesaler or the retailer you purchased the mower from. on the other hand, suppose the mower was defective because it was damaged in transit when the retailer delivers it to your home. In that case, it might make more sense to sue the retailer for failing to provide a safe product.
For help determining whom you should name as a defendant in your case, contact our Boston product liability lawyers.
Damages in Boston Products Liability Cases
Defective or dangerous products can cause extensive damages to an injured party. Boston plaintiffs who have been injured because of a dangerous or defective product can recover for medical bills and lost wages stemming from the injury. Furthermore, Boston products liability plaintiffs may also recover intangible damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium.
It is important to seek medical attention for any injuries as soon as possible so that a doctor can document the nature and frequency of any injuries. Similarly, if a doctor opines that a victim is disabled, an economist will need to demonstrate the lost wages and benefits.
Calculating damages is not always straightforward. Furthermore, insurance companies will go to great lengths to minimize compensation. Injured parties will be able to accurately assess the damages available to them by contacting a Boston products liability lawyer.
Subrogation Claims for Damages in Boston Products Liability Cases
In some Boston products liability cases, an insurance company will pay for a portion of medical expenses and lost wages before the case is settled. In such cases, the insurance company is entitled to receive that money back after settlement. The claim for money back to the insurance company is called a subrogation claim. Subrogation protects insurance companies from compensating victims for damages that have already been paid for.
Future Medical Expenses
Products liability cases often involve injuries that take a long time to develop or are not readily ascertainable at the time of injury. For example, an injured party may have been exposed to a dangerous chemical that causes the victim to develop cancer later in life.
However, plaintiffs in products liability cases must claim past and future medical expenses together in one case. Furthermore, insurance companies may send plaintiffs to doctors who will attempt to minimize the extent of their injuries to decrease the value of a claim. Fighting the insurance company while weighing settlement options can be stressful. A Boston products liability lawyer can help victims seek proper treatment and receive appropriate compensation for their claim.
Damages for Wrongful Death Claims in Boston Products Liability Cases
Families of victims who have died because of dangerous or defective products may be able to file wrongful death claims in breach of warranty actions against manufacturers. The following damages may be available to victims’ families in a wrongful death action stemming from a products liability case under Massachusetts law.
- Final medical expenses
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of future income and earning capacity
- Loss of consortium, including the loss of advice, support, companionship, care, and comfort
Families of victims who have died because of defective or dangerous products can contact a Boston products liability lawyer to further review their options for recovery.
Obstacles to Your Boston Product Liability Case
In any product liability case, there may be obstacles to overcome so you can get the compensation you deserve. Your defendant may attempt to argue different scenarios in which they are not liable for the defective product or your injuries. to overcome these arguments, we will need to demonstrate the extent of your injuries and determine how and where the product became defective.
A defendant may argue that the product was sold in a sealed container, so they could not have tampered with or altered the product before selling it. Instead, the defendant may argue that the product became defective after the customer took it home. This defense may be more appropriate for retailers who receive products from wholesalers already packaged and sealed.
Alternatively, the defendant might say the customer is responsible for their injuries because they used the product in a way it was not intended for. For example, they might argue that the customer injured themselves because they tried to use their chainsaw to cut a birthday cake, which is obviously not what a chainsaw is meant for.
On the other hand, some products are dangerous by their very nature. Power tools like chainsaws, nail guns, and blowtorches are inherently dangerous. In such circumstances, the defendant might say the safety risks involved with the product are so open and obvious that the plaintiff should have known to act with caution but failed to do so.
The defendant may employ numerous other defenses and obstacles in your case. Our Boston product liability attorneys can help you prove your case in court and get the compensation you need to recover.
Time Limits to File A Products Liability Case in Boston
Different states will have varying deadlines for filing a products liability claim. These deadlines are governed by state law. In Boston, plaintiffs have three years from the time of their injury to file a products liability claim under Massachusetts law. Furthermore, plaintiffs must file the claim within twelve years of a product’s initial purchase.
However, these limitations can be extended under certain circumstances. In some cases, plaintiffs in products liability cases do not know what caused their injury right away. For example, a person who is injured because of a bad drug may not realize the drug was the cause of their injuries until later. In these instances, the time limits for filing a products liability claim may not begin tolling until the cause of the injury was discovered.
Keeping track of the many deadlines involved with a Boston products liability case can be difficult. Plaintiffs can ensure all of their deadlines are met by seeking assistance from a Boston products liability lawyer.
Contact Our Boston Product Liability Attorneys for a Free Consultation
Our Boston product liability attorneys can help if a defective product injured you or a loved one. Call the Boston personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan about your product defect injury claim at (617) 977-6647. Get in touch today to set up a free, private legal consultation.