When buying products, we, as consumers, expect them to be reasonably safe and provide sufficient safety warnings for their intended use. However, while safety standards have improved dramatically over the years, defective and dangerous products are still a common part of the marketplace. Each year in the United States nearly 30 million injuries can be attributed to defective and dangerous products and virtually no type of product or industry is immune from potential hazards.
Claims against companies that manufacture or sell products that are unreasonably dangerous or defective are known as product liability cases. Such cases are pursued when a product is either improperly manufactured, negligently designed or involves a situation in which the company has failed to properly warn the public about dangerous features regarding use of the product. Recently, even Amazon has come under fire for selling dangerous products.
When using the term product liability we are referring in general to products such as vehicles, toys, medical equipment and devices, prescription drugs, and industrial machines – basically any and all consumer products that are dangerous and defective and can cause injury.
Many safety improvements, rules and regulations that protect us today, began or grew out of information that was developed through a previous lawsuit. With this information we are able to educate one another on the process, safety and prevention of defective and dangerous products.
The Legal Examiner’s main goal is to help you stay safe and prevent injury to you and your loved ones. Below we have several helpful tips to help you do just that.
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Evaluate the Risk Involved
The most straight-forward wayo stay safe and help prevent any injury is to look at the risk involved in any given situation, which will thereby help to lower the chances of injury.
In terms of products, one of the most common injuries includes children getting injured by toys. When buying a new toy for your child, look it over carefully before deciding to purchase it. Does it have any sharp edges that can harm your child? Are there any small parts that can be a choking hazard? Does the product appear dangerous in anyway? If so, you can help eliminate and prevent injury by removing the dangerous elements and supervising the child while they use the toy.
For products in general, it is important to keep in mind that while everyone may not be able to afford the very best, safest version of every product, everyone can and should take steps to ensure that whatever products they do buy or use, are relatively well-made and safe. This includes devices you use everyday, such as your mobile or your vape pen. Both devices (or more accurately, the batteries that power them) have been known to spontaneously catch fire and can cause serious burns.
While we have been discussing product safety in this article, another important issue involves do-it-yourself-fixes. If you are not a professional, take the time to really consider what you are capable of doing yourself. Most people are on a budget and naturally find do-it-yourself-fixes appealing to save a few dollars, but if you do not have any specialized training in a certain area, it is likely not worth the risk. This is especially true if the do-it-yourself-fix involves wiring and/or electricity for instance.
Be mindful of products and chemicals used in the workplace as well. There has been much media attention lately about the dangers of Paraquet, and shortly before that was a massive settlement with Bayer for another well-known herbicide: Roundup.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has released several checklists detailing extra precautions that should be taken during the COVID-19 crisis.
Accidents Happen Quickly
A common issue in defective and dangerous product cases is just how quickly the accident occurs. There is no real way to truly appreciate just how fast things can go wrong, especially when using products such as industrial equipment and farming equipment.
Most people start off with the assumption that if something bad were to happen, there would be enough time to escape the situation. But in reality, in the majority of serious accidents, there was no time to escape. Accidents happen at lightening speed and can be prevented with a little caution and forethought. Avoid trouble when you can and build in a safety margin that you can live and is reasonable.
While this article is intended to teach you about safety and prevention, the reality of the matter is accidents do occur each and everyday. If you have been injured and need help evaluating your situation please refer to our other articles on defective and dangerous products as they will help you determine if you have a case and what you can and should be doing.
BOTTOM LINE ADVICE – When it comes to product safety – find the right balance. While you do want to be cautious and keep your family safe from harm, you also don’t want to be paranoid or constantly worried. You can’t live your life in constant fear of you or a loved one getting hurt, but you can assess the risk of any situation and make educated, thoughtful decisions that are right for you and your family.
Read the next article: What to Do When a Product-Related Accident Happens