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Products Liability

Products Liability

Has a Defective or Manipulated Product Hurt You?

New York’s product liability laws impose an obligation upon product manufacturers and distributors to ensure that their products are free of manufacturing defects, function as claimed, and are designed in a reasonably safe manner.  If you have been injured by a consumer product or industrial machinery, the manufacturer or distributor may be held legally responsible to compensate you and/or your loved one for personal  injuries and resultant economic losses. 

Product liability lawsuits can be incredibly complicated and are not for amateur practitioners.  At Law Office of James Trainor, P.C., our vast knowledge of products liability law and its application to complexly engineered products positions us to pursue maximum recovery for you or your loved ones efficiently. 

New York’s laws protecting consumers and employees from defective products applies to a broad spectrum of devices, machines, and equipment, and includes among other products:

  • Defective Cars, Trucks, RVs, and Motorcycles
    • Airbag Defects (e.g., faulty inflator and propellant mechanisms)
    • Seatbelt Deficiencies (e.g., insufficient tension pressure upon impact)
    • Tires (e.g., rupture after minimal use)
    • Faulty breaking systems (e.g., insufficient response time)
    • Ignition system defects (e.g., vehicle unexpectedly shuts off and disables airbags)
    • Fuel Tank design defects (e.g., explosions, avoidable fires)
  • Defective/Manipulated machinery
    • Power tools (e.g., inadequate cutoff switches and/or warnings)
    • Household appliances and lighting (e.g., faulty wiring or warnings)
    • Factory compaction machines (e.g., faulty hydraulics and/or electrical systems)
    • Printing Presses (e.g., disabled cutoff switches and/or other safety features)
    • Lawnmowers/ Hedge Trimmers/ Pesticides
    • Ladders, Stilts, Cherry Pickers, Tractors
    • Fuel Containers (e.g., propane tank explosions)
  • Faulty Children’s Toys and Equipment
    • Jungle gyms/swings/monkey bars (e.g., inadequate grips and/or fall protection)
    • Toys (e.g., detachable parts, sharp edged components, breakable components that can injure, such as mirrors)
    • Clothing (e.g., insufficiently flame resistant)
    • Cribs, Carriages, and Playpens
    • Pools, Slides, and Swimming Aids

If you were injured by a consumer product or industrial machinery that you believe was defective, call us right away before it is too late!   If we accept your case, we promptly avail ourselves of our on-call engineering experts to develop the theory and proof of why the product manufacturer and/or distributor should be held legally responsible under law for your injuries.  Product liability cases usually involve one or more theories of why the defendant is responsible for the harms its product has caused, including:

Manufacturing Defect. When an otherwise safely designed product is made dangerous because of a mistake, glitch, or quality control oversight in the manufacturing process, the manufacturer may be required to pay for any resultant personal injuries or death.  Under New York’s “strict products liability” regime, no amount of safety or quality control by the manufacturer will allow it to avoid liability for money damages if the consumer is injured as a result of a flaw in the production of the product.     

Design Defects.  When a product is assembled and produced in accordance with its intended design, the manufacturer may still be liable for injuries to the end user if an alternative design of the product that was safer and economically feasible existed when the product was brought to market.  Under the theory of “defective design,” if a product poses a foreseeable risk of injury to consumers who use the product as intended (e.g., power saw of which the user momentarily loses control) and the manufacturer can “design out” and eliminate the risk without destroying the product’s usefulness (e.g., automatic shutdown once the user releases the trigger), the manufacturer may be required to do so.  Under New York law, a determination on the feasibility of alternative safer product designs must take into account other variables to determine whether the manufacturer is liable for not implementing the safer design, including:

Cost of the Safer Design.  An additional cost of 5¢ for a more safely designed power saw that will retail for $200 may be deemed economically feasible, whereas an alternative design that will increase production costs by $300 per unit might be deemed economically infeasible.  Whereas an additional 5¢ is an immaterial cost that could likely be passed on to consumers, an additional $100 cost could be expected to price out a large pool of consumers.  

Utility and Disutility. Another factor is whether the claimed safer design would render the product less useful.  For example, a manufacturer who foregoes an additional 5¢ cost for a safer power saw might avoid liability under the theory of “design defect” if the safety feature would require the power saw to shut down every 3 minutes notwithstanding the user’s control and deliberate engagement of the trigger.  Under these hypothetical circumstances, the inconvenience of the repeated interruptions in the consumer’s use of the power saw occasioned by the safety device take away from the power saw’s usefulness in allowing the consumer to cut large amounts of wood, drywall, etc. time effectively.

Warning Defect. When a product is designed safely and manufactured properly, but contains an ineliminable latent injury risk of which the consumer will likely be unaware, the manufacturer has a duty to warn of the risk and, where applicable, advise of precautions that the consumer should undertake to reduce the risk. In defective warning cases, issues to be weighed include:

  • Presence of a warning label or safety brochure
  • Order and organization of alerts contained in a warning label/brochure (e.g., higher risks of more serious injuries should feature more prominently than low risks if less serious injuries)
  • Font and/or graphics used in the warning
  • Where the warning is published (e.g., sticker on the product itself vs. brochure insert)
  • Clarity of the language in the alert to the average consumer

Negligence. When a manufacturer brings its product to market, it must be aware of contemporary standards of design, engineering, and safety applicable to its product.  If the product’s design falls below current standards or the manufacturer fails to perform standard safety tests to apprise itself of the products risks, it may be held liable in damages for injuries of which it should have known and could have protected against, but failed to on account of its lack of care in the design and/or safety testing process. 

Breach of Implied Warranty of Merchantability.  A manufacturer that markets a product that is unfit for the very tasks it is meant to perform may be held liable for any injuries the product causes while the product is being used.  For example, a power saw that causes wood debris to fly with such force that it injures the user or any persons nearby, may be deemed unfit for its intended purpose of cutting wood.  In such circumstances, the manufacturer of the power saw may be held “strictly liable” in damages for any injuries the unfit product proximately causes.  

If you have been injured by a product that you suspect was faulty, do not hesitate to contact us right away!   We have the courtroom experience and know-how to pursue the money compensation you deserve.  Call us now!