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Where Does Personal Responsibility End And Product Liability Begin?


People suffer injuries all the time, and many of these injuries involve commercial products. Sometimes you can sue the product’s manufacturer for compensation, but other times you can’t hold them responsible for what happened. So what’s the distinction? What makes one product defective while another product was simply used wrong? The line between defective products and reckless actions can be nuanced, but here are a few of the basic distinctions.

Common-Sense Dangers

Some products are dangerous by design. Knives can cut fingers and hands just as well as they cut meat and vegetables, cars that crash into walls at high speeds will cause a lot of harm no matter what safety systems are on board, and hot stoves will burn your hands if you touch them. Each of these products come with safety features like handles, airbags, and hot-surface warnings, but some amount of danger is unavoidable. If a jury thinks that you ignored your own common sense and got injured, they will probably decide against you.

Warning Labels

Some dangers are less obvious than others but are equally unavoidable. This is why manufacturers will put warning labels on their products. For instance, wood chippers have labels on the hopper that show a finger getting chopped up by the blades inside, and this warns users to keep their hands out of the hopper. If a danger isn’t obvious and a warning isn’t present, a jury will likely rule that the manufacturer is at fault. If the label is there and the injured person could see it, the jury will more likely say the user is at fault.

Truth In Advertising

When a company creates an advertisement, they make a promise that their product can do what the ad says. This promise can be explicit or implicit, like an ad that says “Our candy bar cures cancer!” versus one that shows a child with cancer and then the child with no cancer and the candy bar. If a product doesn’t live up to the expectations its advertisements set, the buyer can sue the manufacturer under product liability law.

Product Defects

A product defect is the most obvious reason to sue a manufacturer for product liability. A commercial product should be safe to use (within reason), properly labeled, and correctly documented. However, sometimes a product will come with a defect that makes it break easily, harm its user unexpectedly, or damage its surroundings. A phone battery that spontaneously bursts into flame, for instance. Product defects are clear cases of manufacturer responsibility, which is why companies spend a lot of money on inspections and product recalls.

Sometimes it’s not clear when an injury or property damage happens because of a defective product or because the user was being negligent or reckless. That’s why you should speak to a personal injury lawyer for advice and clarification before you file a lawsuit or accept a manufacturer settlement. If you happen to live in southwest Florida, you can speak to the experts at Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, and Walsh to get a free initial case review and find out what kind of compensation you can expect for your injury.

Michael J. Babboni's wide-ranging legal career is based on the strong belief that everyone should be treated fairly and have access to effective legal help. Michael began putting his beliefs in action by helping the people of St. Petersburg Florida get what they are owed in civil trials fighting to protect families by making corporations pay, and honor their obligations.

Where Does Personal Responsibility End And Product Liability Begin?

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh




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