As cell phones become more common, so do reports of injuries related to cell phone use. Aside from injuries related to talking on the phone or texting while driving, many cell phone personal injuries arise from:
- Severe burns by overheating;
- Exploding batteries;
- Fires caused by overheating;
- Similar issues related to cell phone charging devices; and/or
- Various other types of incidents.
What Legal Issues Arise from Cell Phone Injuries?
Depending on the type of injury, there are a variety of causes of action available to someone who was injured by a cell phone.
1) Product Liability: Someone who has been burned, shocked, or otherwise severely injured from a cell phone or a part of a cell phone exploding or catching fire may be able to sue the manufacturer of the phone or of a certain part of the phone under a products liability theory. In general, there are three types of product defect categories:
- Design Defect: A phone has a design defect if the design itself makes the product unsafe.
- For instance, if a phone battery is too close to a circuit that makes the battery hotter than usual and the phone catches fire as a result, there is a design defect.
- Manufacturing Defect: A phone has a manufacturing defect if the phone’s design is fine but the way the phone was manufactured was faulty.
- For instance, if wire is not soldered properly within a phone, and it causes the phone to fail, there was likely a manufacturing defect.
- Warning Defect: These types of defects have to do with the warning information and labeling that accompanies a cell phone product.
- If the product does not have the proper warning labels regarding health and safety risks, or if the warning labels are difficult to read or understand, the manufacturer might be held liable for resulting injuries.
2) Negligence: Someone who was injured by texting and driving may be able to recover for their injuries under a negligence theory. Negligence requires the injured party to show that the defendant's breach of duty caused an injury to the plaintiff. It also requires a showing that the breach of duty was the direct cause of the injuries, and that the injuries resulted in measurable damages. An example of this is where a person disregards their duty to drive safely by driving while drunk, causing an accident which results in severe damages.
3) Recklessness: Because of how inherently dangerous it is, some states elevate texting and driving to recklessness, which can result in increased damages as well as potentially the option of punitive damages.
What are the Legal Remedies Available in a Cell Phone Injury Lawsuit?
Cell phone injuries can be severe and may require legal action to fully remedy the injured person’s losses. In most cases, the legal remedy will be a damages award that is issued to the injured person.
The damages are intended to reimburse them for losses caused by the injury; these can include costs such as: medical costs, hospital bills, any lost wages during recovery time, loss of the ability to generate income in the future, pain and suffering, and other costs. Cases involving extremely negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct may also result in punitive damages.
In cases where a phone or phone product is determined to be dangerous to the public, a product recall may be issued. If a company or business is found to be distributing or selling cell phone products that have already been recalled, they may also face liability if injuries result.
Are there any Defenses Available in a Cell Phone Injury Lawsuit?
As in any injury suit, there may be defenses available to the defendant party, depending on the circumstances. A common defense in defective product claims is that of contributory negligence.
This is where the injured party’s own negligence contributes in some manner to their injury. For instance, if the person already knows that a product is dangerous and has been recalled, yet continues to use it, their ability to collect damages may be affected since their own conduct was a contributing factor to their injuries.
Depending on the jurisdiction, their damages may be lessened, or they may be prevented from collecting damages altogether. Other defenses, such as consent or other legal defense theories may be applicable, depending on the facts surrounding the injury.
Should I Seek Legal Advice?
Negligence lawsuits can be incredibly complicated, with products liability being just as difficult if not more so. If you have been injured by a cell phone or have been injured by someone else’s improper use of a cell phone, you should seek the advice of a local, experienced personal injury lawyer immediately. Not only can a lawyer help you navigate the long, complicated legal process, but is also the best way to ensure you are compensated for your injuries.