What a Lawyer Must Prove to Win a Product Liability Case

Thousands of injuries occur each year in the United States from defective or dangerous products. Victims of dangerous defective products have legal protection under product liability laws throughout the country. These laws govern the legal rules that determine who can be held liable for the defect or danger to consumers.

In general, products sold to the public are required to meet common expectations of consumers. When those products have an unexpected defect, common expectations of consumers are not met.

More than one party could be held liable for injuries that occur from consumer use of a defective product. This includes all sellers that are part of the distribution chain for making the product. Parties that are potentially liable for a defective product include the manufacturer, parts supplier, wholesaler and the retail store from which the product was purchased by the consumer.

The type of defect will determine who is responsible for a liability claim. All of the specifics related to a product liability case may differ among states. However, there are certain elements that a lawyer must prove to win a product liability case for his or her client. These elements include:

  • Injury and/or loss was caused by the product
  • Product was defective
  • Manufacturer’s error led to flaw in product
  • Manufacturer failed to warn consumers about potential dangers
  • Product was used correctly

Product Caused Injury and/or Loss

An actual injury or loss is a crucial element for a lawyer in proving a product liability claim. Specifically, the injury or loss must be a direct result of the product’s defect. In some cases, demonstrating the link between an injury and product defect is straightforward. In other cases, proving that the defect caused the injury or loss is not so easy.

For instance, a client was injured in a car accident while driving a vehicle prone to flipping over. If there is evidence that the client was speeding when the accident occurred, the manufacturer could argue that reckless driving – not the design of the vehicle – caused the accident.

However, a client could suffer third-degree burns when a brand new electric tea kettle explodes because of a hairline crack. The client did nothing out of the ordinary while using the tea kettle and could have a strong injury claim.

Product is Flawed Due to Manufacturer’s Error

In addition to proving that the product caused an injury or loss, the lawyer must also prove that the same product is defective. For some cases, the defect could be the result of a problem at the manufacturing plant. For others, the defect is within the product design, which means that the entire product line is dangerous for consumer use.

A lawyer might have a harder time proving that there was a flaw in the product design. The most likely scenario is demonstrating that an unreasonable design created the danger. However, a product that has potential danger is not automatically a judgment against the manufacturer or supplier when an injury occurs.

There are times when designing a product in a cost-effective or reasonable way is not feasible. Consider the potential dangers of vehicle air bags. While they can cause serious injury to a driver or passenger, they can also save lives in certain collisions. Car manufacturers would argue that when alternative outcomes are considered, air bags are not unreasonably dangerous.

Manufacturer Failed to Warn Consumers of Potential Dangers

Typically, a lawyer might have a better chance at proving an injury or loss occurred from a defective design when the average consumer is not aware of the dangerous quality. A ruling in such cases may depend on whether the manufacturer failed to warn consumers of the potential dangers. The manufacturer or supplier must show that instructions and warnings were reasonably sufficient.

In this case, a client might suffer third-degree burns from an electric tea kettle because the steam valve is concealed by some part of the product design. An average consumer would expect to find a visible spout from where steam is released. Instead, the steam valve is placed in an inconspicuous area, which strengthens a defective design claim.

Proving defective design is problematic if the tea kettle included bright red stickers printed with the word “caution” and the user manual included warnings about the steam valve position. The legal question now becomes whether the warnings were adequate.

Injured Client Used Product Correctly

Generally, the lawyer’s client must use the product correctly; that is, the way the manufacturer intended the product to be used. Continuing with the tea kettle example, an example would be if the explosion occurs when used to heat water for an outdoor kinds’ pool is not the intended use.

If the kettle explodes and causes burns, the lawyer may not be able to prove manufacturer liability. The manufacturer is not required to make the tea kettle safe for use with an outdoor pool.

However, this does not mean that use of every product must conform to the manufacturer’s specifications. The key is proving whether the average consumer would or would not use the product in the same manner as the client. If so, the lawyer has met the reasonable expectation of use requirement.

Winning a product liability case involves deciphering often complex circumstances and establishing a good legal theory. A lawyer who is knowledgeable of product liability law and the litigation process will craft a strategy to prove the case. An immediate investigation into the facts surrounding the case could expose obvious defective issues. Further, expert testimony is often essential in proving that a defective design caused an injury and/or loss.

Personal Productivity Tips – A Super-Optimized Personal Productivity System

In a digital world, productivity is our number one priority. With today’s internet professionals no longer being plagued by inefficient hourly work and set office hours, the burden of working hard is now entirely on us.

As such, we’re presented with two opportunities.

The first is to work at the slow and steady office pace and see our net pay massively decrease. The second is to work at the maximum possible speed, use selective productivity tricks and work-style changes, and earn an income that’s proportionally greater than it ever was before.

The only way to achieve this ideal work goal is to invest some time in a personal productivity system.

Your system doesn’t have to be ultra-optimized or scientifically backed, it just has to be something that works well for you.

Whether that means shaving a couple of hours off your daily work period and making up for it with an increase in work intensity or spending more time each day on learning and research doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you see some big benefits from it. Craft your personal productivity system around your goals, not around the desired results of other people. If you want to devote some time each day to reading, shape your work around times that allow you to read when you want to.

It’s important to remember that productivity isn’t about minimizing the time that you spend on your work. Great productivity is about creating a work system that allows you to live the life that you want. That’s what a personal productivity system is all about.

Create your system to work around what you love doing, maximize the output of what’s most important to you, and allow you to balance your workload and your lifestyle to the degree that you need.

Don’t ever think that you need a personal productivity system built for someone else. Just build it for yourself.

Apply the 80/20 Rule and Watch Your Personal Productivity Soar

Before we can apply the 80/20 rule, we need a clear picture of what it actually is and a basic idea of where it originated.

In the early 1900’s, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto observed that twenty percent of the people in Italy owned eighty percent of the wealth. Over 30 years later, Dr. Joseph M. Juran, who worked in the field of Quality Management in the United States, recognized a similar occurrence, namely, that many things in life are unevenly distributed.

He referred to this trend as Pareto’s 80/20 Principle, which is otherwise known as the 80/20 rule. Basically this means that a small percentage (roughly 20%) of the overall activity yields a larger percentage (roughly 80%) of the result.

Applying the 80/20 rule to your personal productivity will help you to prioritize your work from most important to least important and then to budget your time accordingly. To make prioritizing your tasks a bit easier, estimate the amount of time you will need to complete each task. You will be more productive if you focus on completing the most important tasks first and if you finish time-sensitive projects before tackling other tasks.

One survey revealed that while people spend 60 hours a week in their offices, they do less than 20 hours of actual work. Applying the 80/20 rule, using the aforementioned suggestions, could send the average office-worker soaring to employee of the month in no time flat!

With your priorities set and a definite plan in place as to what work you need to complete and the time-frame you have to complete it, you are well on your way to improved personal productivity. Again, the 80/20 rule suggests that in a small amount time you can be very productive. Therefore, beware of becoming side-tracked by non-essential intruders like procrastination.

Keep in mind the old adage, “why put off tomorrow what you can do today!” Also, be mindful that in the course of a day, unexpected things do come up and require our time. However, this is usually the exception and not the rule. If you really want your productivity to soar, stay focused on the goal of completing your tasks on-time!

Now that you know where you want to be, it’s a good time to ask yourself where you are now in relation to reaching your goal. Are you already in the 20% of efficient, productive workers, are you in the 80% of not-so-productive workers, or are you somewhere in-between?

What does your annual or quarterly review reveal about your personal productivity? What do your peer reviews show? Regardless of your current standing, take an honest look at the work you’ve done lately. You may not need a full overhaul of your work habits but instead you may just need to fine-tune a few areas.

Don’t hesitate. Why not start today? Apply the 80/20 rule at work and even at home and just watch your personal productivity soar!