The term product liability refers to the responsibility of a product manufacturer or seller for injuries caused by a defective product. State law governs whether the manufacturer or seller is responsible for compensating the consumer for the injuries — and the laws vary among the states. So, if you suffer a personal injury in Virginia Beach, and the injury occurred because of a defective product, Virginia laws determine whether you can recover from the manufacturer or seller.
When Is a Product Defective?
The fact that a person is injured by a product does not automatically make the manufacturer or seller responsible for those injuries. However, consumers should not have to worry about being injured if they use a product as directed. Manufacturers have a legal obligation to make products that are safe for consumers to use. If injuries occur because a product is defective, the manufacturer may be responsible.
Generally, there are three different ways that a product can be defective:
- Safety flaws are inherent in the design or engineering of the product.
- Flaws occur during manufacture and result in a safely-designed product being defective.
- A manufacturer provides incorrect or inadequate labeling and instructions for use or inadequate warnings about risks.
Examples of all these types of defective products are often in the news: unstable chests of drawers that fell over and injured children if they were not anchored to a wall illustrate a design flaw; improperly deploying airbags in cars were blamed at least in part on careless manufacturing; and many drug manufacturers are held responsible for failing to provide adequate warnings about possible hazards and side effects of taking certain medications.
When Is the Manufacturer Responsible in Virginia?
In Virginia, a product must be reasonably safe for its intended purposes and reasonably foreseeable uses. However, manufacturers are not required to design or produce items with the maximum possible safety features.
In some states, a company or person who designs, manufactures, inspects, distributes, or installs an item can be held responsible for a defective product under the theory of strict liability. That means a company or person can be liable even if there is no proof of fault or negligence. Unlike other states, Virginia does not impose strict liability in defective product cases. Recovery in a product liability case in Virginia is dependent on either proving negligence or establishing a case for breach of warranty.
To hold a company responsible for injuries from a defective product on the theory of negligence, your lawyer must demonstrate:
- The product was defective in a way that could foreseeably cause harm;
- You were using the product as intended, without alteration from its manufactured condition; and
- As a direct result of the defect, you suffered quantifiable injury.
In product liability cases in Virginia, a seller or installer also may be held liable for breach of warranty. If a company or person who regularly sells or rents a product makes express or implied warranties or promises about the safety and fitness for use of a product, that company or person is liable if the product does not meet the warranties. In a breach of warranty action, you may be able to recover damages for injuries from a defective product without proving that the manufacturer or seller was negligent.
Regardless of the circumstances causing the injury, if you receive a personal injury in Virginia Beach — or anywhere else in Virginia — and the injury may have been caused by a defective product, a product liability case will be complex and difficult to prove on the basis of either negligence or breach of warranty. Consulting with an experienced, knowledgeable Virginia product liability attorney is imperative.
Talk With an Attorney for Personal Injury in Virginia Beach
Jeff Brooke is a Virginia Beach personal injury attorney with the skill and experience necessary to pursue product liability cases. If you’ve been seriously injured by a defective product, or a family member has been injured or died because of a defective product, The Jeff Brooke Team is here to help you and your family. 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 as a result 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.