Every year consumers purchase millions of products, from small appliances to vehicles and industrial equipment. Not surprisingly, sometimes a product is defective and causes injury to its user. Product manufacturers can be held liable when their products cause injuries or death to consumers. This liability can extend to product sellers in some situations. However, Louisiana places strict limitations on when a manufacturer can be made to pay, and the Louisiana Products Liability Act sets out the exclusive claims against manufacturers for damage caused by their products. For a manufacturer to be held liable, the injury had to have occurred while the product was being used as it was intended to be used. This also includes using the product in a way that the manufacturer knew or should have known the product would be used. The product also has to be defective in one of four ways.
All products are evaluated based on their condition at the time they left the factory. If the product has been modified or damaged in any way since it left the manufacturer’s control, and the modification or damage caused the accident, then you will not be able to bring a defective product claim against the manufacturer.
A product is unreasonably dangerous in its construction or composition if the product did not work right when it left the factory. Situations where this would apply include a vehicle with an electrical short or a piece of machinery with a defective weld. Any type of product that posed a danger to its user because of a manufacturing defect would be unreasonably dangerous in construction or composition.
A product is unreasonably dangerous in design if there was an alternative design that would have prevented the injury and it would not have been overly burdensome on the manufacturer to use the alternative design. A common example of this is when an inexpensive plastic guard can prevent injury from a power tool.
Some products are simply dangerous, and a manufacturer will not be held responsible for all injuries caused by a product. Household chemicals can be dangerous. Power tools like a chain saw or a nail gun are dangerous and just being injured by one does not automatically create a products liability claim. However, manufacturers have a duty to warn consumers about the dangers the manufacturers know about. This duty can extend passed the time when the product leaves the factory and if a manufacturer later learns of a danger posed by its product, it has a duty to warn consumers who have already purchased the product.
A product fails to conform to an express warranty when it makes a claim about how it can be used, and a consumer is injured using it in that manner. An example would be if a product said it was waterproof, but a consumer was electrocuted while using the product in the rain.
To win a defective product claim you will almost certainly need an expert who can testify about why the product was unreasonably dangerous. Defective product claims are very complex, and you should consult with an attorney with experience in handling them and with the resources to give you the best chance of winning your case.