The term “product liability” really encompasses a broad variety of claims for damages caused by a product. It is possible to be harmed by a product that is designed defectively. For example, there have been cases involving vehicles that are prone to rolling over. This may be caused by a variety of factors, including a wheelbase that is too narrow or a vehicle with a top heavy weight distribution. A vehicle that is prone to rolling over may give rise to a San Diego product liability lawsuit even if the vehicle that caused harm came off the assembly line exactly as it was intended to. Contact a San Diego product liability attorney.
In contrast, there are some product liability cases in which a product is designed well, but comes off the assembly line with a defect. For example, back when glass soda bottles were common, there were cases in which soda bottles would explode in a person’s hand. It is possible that the 1 million bottles sold before the sale of the exploding bottle were opened and used without incident. Therefore, it would be difficult to argue that there was any defect inherent in the product advised a San Diego personal injury attorney. However, if a soda bottle exploded in someone’s hand while the person did not shake it up or take any other action to make it more likely to explode, there is a good chance that the glass was unreasonably weak.
Courts have decided that it is better to spread the cost of damages from defective products among consumers rather than cause a single individual to bear the cost of a defective product. So, the government allows an injured party to sue the producer of the products in order to be compensated for his injuries. As a result, the cost of the product at issue ends up being increased by a tiny amount in order to pay for injuries that are likely to be caused by the product. The rationale underlying this decision by the courts is, essentially, that it is better for a large number of people to suffer a tiny price increase than it is for any one person to be gravely injured or killed and not be compensated for it in a product liability lawsuit, advised an injury lawyer.
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In cases involving an alleged design defect, there is often a significant amount of time and money devoted to determining whether a defect actually exists. Usually, products in product liability cases are mass-produced. Therefore, if one person is harmed by a design defect then many other people are probably also harmed by the design defect. Therefore, companies are willing to invest more money in combating a design defect lawsuit then they would if they anticipated only one lawsuit.
In design defect cases such as a case in which a vehicle has a wheelbase which was too narrow, companies have been known to invest money in paying experts to conduct studies on the allegedly defective vehicle. For example, an expert might conduct a study in which the vehicle is driven at 5 mph and turned sharply to the left. It may be that the vehicle never tips over during the course of the study. Then, if a driver of the vehicle files a product liability lawsuit alleging that the vehicle tipped over during a turn at a low speed, the company can call one of its experts to testify as a witness that low-speed turns do not result in its vehicles tipping over.
It is not quite as easy for a large company to defend lawsuits relating to a manufacturing defect as it is for them to defend lawsuits related to a design defect. One reason is that, as mentioned above, companies are willing to spend more in defending a design defect lawsuit because it is likely that there will be multiple lawsuits of the kind. However, with a manufacturing defect lawsuit it may be that there is only one or a small number of products that suffer from the manufacturing defect. So companies are willing to invest less money to conduct studies and engage in other activities that might allow them to defend such a case. Contact us to speak with one of our attorneys if you feel you may have a case.
By Douglas Gilliland