Rochester Defective Product Lawyers
Representing Clients in Buffalo in Product Liability Claims
Faraci Lange, LLP is one of the most experienced and recognized firms in New York State in the field of product liability law. We have five attorneys listed in the Product Liability category of Best Lawyers in America®, more than any other law firm in Western New York.
Our Rochester product liability lawyers have successfully handled cases involving defective consumer products (automobiles, exercise equipment, children’s clothing, etc.), defective medical products (breast implants, joint prostheses, etc.), and defective pharmaceuticals (Vioxx, Xarelto, etc.), as well as many others. Product liability suits are usually complex and expensive because the defendants are typically large corporations/manufacturers with enormous resources. To be successful against such a defendant, you need a dedicated and experienced team, like the one at Faraci Lange, LLP.
Contact us online or call (888) 997-4110 today to request a free and confidential consultation.
What Is Product Liability Law?
A manufacturer or seller of a defective product may be liable to a person injured as a result of that defect. This branch of personal injury law is called "products liability." There are a variety of legal claims that can be made in a case involving a defective product, including negligence, breach of warranty, and strict liability.
Under each theory, there are certain elements that must be present in order for the claim to succeed. These are:
- The defendant manufactured or sold the product
- The product was defective and/or did not function properly
- The defective product caused damage to a person or property
- The defect existed at the time the product left the hands of the manufacturer or seller
In order to recover for an injury caused by a defective product, the victim must have been using the product for its intended use. In other words, if the product is being used in a manner contrary to the manufacturer's warnings and instructions when the injury occurs, then the manufacturer will have a defense to a strict product liability claim.
What Does “Strict Product Liability” Mean?
The basic premise of the strict product liability doctrine is that a manufacturer or distributor of a product is responsible for injuries caused by defects in that product.
Courts have held that there are three separate types of defects:
- Design defects
- Manufacturing defects
- Defects in warnings or instructions
If an injured victim can establish that such a defect was a proximate cause of the injury suffered, then the manufacturer or distributor will be held liable to compensate the victim for his or her damages.
How Is Strict Liability Different from Negligence?
Strict product liability claims are different than ordinary negligence claims, although there is substantial overlap between the two theories. To succeed with a general claim of negligence you must prove that the defendant acted unreasonably under the circumstances. Where a products liability claim is predicated on a manufacturing defect, proof of such a defect is all that is required, and there is no requirement to prove that the manufacturer was negligent or acted unreasonably.
For instance, if a child's swing set was manufactured with substandard steel such that the swing broke and caused injury, there would be no requirement to prove anything other than that the steel was substandard and not in conformance with the intended design. Claims of design defect, however, require a balancing of the risks against utility of the product, and this analysis certainly approaches the general reasonableness standard in a negligence case. Similarly, the instructions and warnings required to be given to use a product safely are typically judged on a reasonableness standard that is typically indistinguishable from the general negligence standard of proof.
What Is a "Defective Product?"
Under New York law, a product can be defective in three ways:
- Because of a mistake in manufacturing;
- Because of a mistake in design; and,
- Because of a failure to properly warn or instruct users about the product.
By way of example, a manufacturing defect ordinarily involves a product that is properly designed but is manufactured in a way that creates a hazard. Faraci Lange, LLP represented a man who was injured when a pneumatic nail gun fired unexpectedly. The nail gun had a properly designed safety feature that prevented inadvertent firing, but it failed in this case because it had a flawed spring that broke prematurely.
Defectively designed products encompass an entire line of products made dangerous because of a flaw in the design. The Ford Pinto from the late 1960s is one example. That car was designed in a manner that made its gas tank vulnerable to explosion in the event of a rear end collision. Ford knew of this design defect before the Pinto was first built, but opted not to redesign it after determining it would be cheaper to pay damages in product liability cases than to redesign the car. Faraci Lange, LLP has represented many clients who have been injured by poorly designed products.
Finally, a product can be defective because it lacks proper warnings regarding dangers in the product and proper instructions regarding the way the product can be used safely. Faraci Lange, LLP has represented hundreds of workers who have been injured or killed by exposure to products containing asbestos fiber. In those cases, we have been able to prove that the manufacturers knew that asbestos could be dangerous to workers but, nonetheless, did not warn them about the danger or instruct them on precautions they could take to minimize or eliminate the risk. If you have experienced a defective product in any of the ways described above, contact us through our website here.
What Is a Breach of Warranty?
This is a claim derived from the contract of sale between the seller and the buyer. Under New York law, and the law of most other states, certain warranties are implied into the sale of a product. In addition to these implied warranties, called the "warranty of merchantability" and the "warranty of fitness for a particular purpose," some sellers also include express warranties with the products they sell.
The New York Court of Appeals has held that a product that is not "defective" under traditional principles of negligence or strict liability law may nonetheless be in breach of certain express or implied warranties. Therefore, a person injured by a product that is still governed by an express warranty or that is less than four years old should contact a lawyer and consider including a breach of warranty claim in any case filed as a result of the product-related injury.
Who Is Liable for a Defective Product?
As a general rule, anybody in the chain of distribution of a product can be liable for an injury caused by a defective product. This includes the manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, and/or retailer of the product. It does not include causal sellers who sell products infrequently, such as at a garage sale.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in a Product Liability Case?
A lawsuit alleging injury caused by a defective product ordinarily must be filed within three years of the date of injury. This is true for personal injury cases alleging negligence and strict liability. If a child is injured, the time period does not begin to run until the child reaches age 18. For breach of warranty claims, the lawsuit must be filed within four years of the date of sale. If the injury caused by the product results in death, the wrongful death action must be brought within two years of the date of death. In any case, it is critically important to contact an attorney as soon as possible and to assume that the shortest limitations period applies.
What Do I Do If I Think I Am a Victim of a Defective Product?
A person injured by a defective product should contact an attorney as soon as possible after the injury. Products are often complicated and it is not always obvious why a product failed and caused injury. For this reason, it is essential that the defective product be preserved and analyzed promptly after the accident. Indeed, the injured person's failure to preserve the product can, in certain circumstances, result in the dismissal of their case.
In addition, there are exceptions to all of the general rules discussed above, many of which are dependent on the specific facts of a specific case. For this reason, it is crucial that a person injured by a defective product contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Is Hiring an Attorney Expensive?
It shouldn't be. A reputable personal injury attorney will not charge you for an initial consultation. So, if you have any questions about injuries you sustained as a result of a product defect, it makes sense to call a lawyer. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee, which means they get paid only if you do. The standard fee is one-third of the recovery. By law, the client is always responsible for expenses incurred during litigation, even if there is no recovery. Those expenses will be subtracted from any settlement before attorney fees are paid. A good personal injury attorney should carefully explain up front the likely costs and fees of a lawsuit, as well as the chances for success. You should be completely aware of the potential costs and likely outcome of your case.
Contact Faraci Lange, LLP Today
If you or your loved one was injured by a defective product, contact Faraci Lange, LLP and request a free initial consultation with one of our experienced Buffalo product liability lawyers. Since 1968, we have been representing injured individuals and their families in Rochester and the surrounding areas, and we are ready to put our decades of experience on your side.
Call our office at (888) 997-4110 or submit an online contact form today to learn more.
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