Accidents in our homes happen fairly frequently. While often the injuries are relatively minor, they can be severe and even life-threatening. When an accident involves a consumer product, the manufacturer or another company may be legally liable under Virginia product liability law, depending on the circumstances.
What Is Product Liability?
Product liability is an area of personal injury law. The principles of product liability law determine legal liability of manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and retailers of products when an individual suffers injuries while using a manufactured product.
Each state establishes specific criteria under which a manufacturer or other company is legally responsible for injuries and accidents resulting from use of consumer products. While some states apply strict liability in product liability cases, making manufacturers responsible for defective products regardless of negligence, Virginia does not follow that rule.
In Virginia, product liability can be based on either negligence or breach of an express or implied warranty.
Virginia Product Liability Law
Virginia law includes several product liability rules:
- A product must be reasonably safe for its intended purposes and for reasonably foreseeable uses.
- If a product has an inherent danger that is not obvious, the manufacturer or seller must provide adequate warnings of the foreseeable risks.
- If the manufacturer supplies an express warranty about qualities or characteristics, the product must live up to those qualities or characteristics.
When a product causes injuries, these rules determine liability of the manufacturer or seller. The company is liable if a defective product causes injuries, insufficient warnings were given, or the product does not meet an express or implied warranty.
The fact that a product causes an injury does not mean the product is defective. Generally, there are three different ways that a manufacturer can be liable for injuries caused by a defective product:
- The product has safety flaws that are inherent in the design or engineering;
- Errors or mistakes in manufacturing produce a defective product from an otherwise safe design; or
- Faulty, incorrect, or inadequate warnings about risks on labels and in instructions render the product defective by the failure to warn.
To hold a manufacturer responsible for injuries from a defective product, negligence of the manufacturer must be demonstrated. Liability is established by showing that:
- The product had a defect that foreseeably could cause harm;
- The product was being used for the intended purpose and was not altered from its original condition; and
- The defect was a direct cause of the injuries suffered by the victim.
Product liability cases are extremely complex both legally and factually. If you suffer serious injuries and you suspect a defective product caused your injuries, talking with an experienced product liability attorney is essential.
What Kind of Products Are Covered by Product Liability?
Virtually any type of product can be the basis for a product liability claim. Examples of products commonly found in homes that may be defective include:
- Small appliances
- Large appliances
- Kitchen tools
- Baby products
- Medicine and drugs
- Medical devices
- Power tools
- Chemicals and household cleaners
- Other products intended for home use
Almost any type of product used in the home can be defective and cause accidents, injuries, or illnesses. When those injuries are severe enough to require medical treatment, product liability rules may entitle the victim to compensation from the product manufacturer or another company.
Who Is Responsible for a Defective Product?
One of the complicating factors in a product liability claim is that more than one company may be legally responsible. In most cases the manufacturer has liability for a defective product. However, there are times when a seller or retailer, wholesaler or distributor, or another company in the distribution chain may be held liable for compensation an injured victim.
Identifying all potential sources of compensation is extremely important — it can increase the likelihood of a recovery. Tracking down all the potentially liable companies is one of the challenges in a product liability case. It is one of many reasons that you need assistance from an experienced product liability attorney to pursue a claim.
Talk With an Experienced Virginia Product Liability Attorney
If you suffered significant injuries caused by a defective product, The Jeff Brooke Team is here to help you. Jeff Brooke is a respected and trusted Virginia Beach personal injury attorney dedicated to recovering compensation for injured victims and their families in product liability cases. Contact us by phone at (757) 552-6055 or by using our online contact form.
Jeff Brooke is a personal injury attorney devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligent and careless actions. The Jeff Brooke Team serves all of southeastern Virginia. The firm helps clients in the Greater Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads areas, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Chesterfield. The Jeff Brooke Team also handles cases in northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.