What Are Major Misconceptions About Faulty Product Claims? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports there were 38.5 million people who sought medical treatment for a consumer product injury in 2010. Not every one of these those cases was necessarily directly due to product defects, the CPSC notes. But it is reasonable for us to assume that at least some of them were.

There also were 94,960 product liability cases filed in the US in 2012 and 2013 in federal courts. Based upon the sheer number of product liability cases reported annually, it is likely that at least thousands of people may think they have a legal case that shows they were hurt or lost their loved one because of a product defect. Are you one of them? 

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If so, it is important to understand common misconceptions about product liability claims, and how to know if you have a valid product liability case. Of course, it is always advisable to run your case across the desk of an experienced Virginia or North Carolina defective product or product liability attorney, as well. 

Myth #1: A Void/Expired Warranty Means No Legal Case

Just because the product warranty is expired or voided does not mean you cannot file a personal injury claim. Some warranties, such as express warranties, state what you can expect from the product. If a toaster owner’s manual states that it will work in a certain way and be free of defects, but you suffer injuries, it can be a strong foundation for a case. But even if there is no explicit warranty that was violated or the express warranty is void/expired, does not mean you cannot win a personal injury case. This is because there are implied warranties that are mandatory by state law that may be violated even if an express warranty has expired. Moreover a negligence claim has nothing to do with the warranty. A negligence claim must be brought within the applicable statute of limitations in the state in question, but can be based on a negligently manufactured product, or a product defect that should have been recognized by the manufacturer.

Myth #2: Product Liability Is Only for Intended/Foreseeable Uses

Some people think they cannot receive compensation in a lawsuit for a product-related injury unless they were using the product exactly as described in the owner’s manual. Not so! It is true that it helps if you were using the device precisely as intended, but you still may be able to win a case even if you were injured when using the product another way not totally inconsistent with the typical way a consumer would use it.

The law states that manufacturers must foresee alternative product uses. For instance, look at your typical armchair. People are supposed to sit in a chair with proper, upright posture. But you might sit in it with your feet on a desk, or use it to stand on to get a book off a shelf. If you use the product in a different manner and are injured, you still may have a product liability claim. 

Myth #3: You Have No Case If You Modified the Product

It is common for consumers to modify products they buy in a foreseeable way. If a too fragile part of the product breaks off and you do not replace it and that leads to an injury, you might have a legal case. It is best if the product that hurt you was in perfect, new condition, but using a product that has been altered and injures you can still result in compensation, assuming that the modification was foreseeable.

Product Liability Misconceptions Summary

Clearly, there is plenty of wiggle room legally about what is in a warranty, or what is a ‘reasonable’ modification of a product. Defective product cases often are brought under warranty law or negligence law. That is why it is important to talk to an experienced product injury attorney about your possible defective product legal case, and it is best to talk to an attorney as early as possible because there are applicable statutes of limitation for all defective product cases in Virginia, North Carolina as well as every other state.. At Shapiro & Appleton, our product liability attorneys have proven results in winning tough product liability cases, such as a $2.5 million product liability verdict for the widow of a man who was burned alive when his Ryobi ride-on lawnmower caught fire and exploded. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation about your product liability case.