Guns as a Defective Consumer Product

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 What is a Defective Consumer Product?

A defective consumer product is a product which has been designed in an unsafe manner. This may be because the product was inherently dangerous or it may be due to a manufacturing mistake.

If the product is defective, it will not work as intended for one of the two above listed reasons. Product liability is the liability of a seller, retailer, or manufacturer of a product when they permit a defective product to reach consumers, regardless of the negligence of the consumer.

Product liability laws determine what party is responsible for a dangerous or defective product. It is important to note that, under the theory of product liability, all parties in the distribution chain may be found liable.

Product liability laws as well as claims permitted under those laws vary by state. There are commercial statutes in each state which model the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). These contain various warranty rules which affect product liability.

Common examples of defective consumer products include:

  • Food items;
  • Medical devices; and
  • Children’s toys.

What is a Defective Consumer Product Injury?

If a product is defective due to failure to warn about dangers, its design, or manufacturing, an individual may be injured by the product. The purchaser of a product may be able to recover damages for their injury if the defective product was the cause of their injury.

An individual who is injured due to a defective product may sue the manufacturer of the product. In some cases, they may also sue the party responsible for the repair of the product.

An injured individual may also be able to sue the party who sold the product, which may include distributors or wholesalers responsible for getting the product from the manufacturer to the retailer, even if the seller did not cause the defect. Depending on the circumstances of the case, some jurisdictions permit an injured party to sue the seller of the used.

How Do I Prove a Defective Product Injury Claim?

There are four legal theories under which an injured individual can bring a product liability claim if they have suffered damages or been injured because of a defective product, including:

  • Breach of express warranty;
  • Breach of implied warranty;
  • Strict product liability; and
  • Negligence.

A breach of express warranty occurs when a defective product violates an express warranty which was guaranteed by the manufacturer. An express warranty is created by the actions or overt words of the seller regarding a product. This type of warranty may be created by:

  • A promise regarding the product made by the seller;
  • A description of the product; or
  • A model of the product.

Even if a product does not have an express warranty, it may have an implied warranty. Implied warranties do not have to be expressly written or guaranteed by a manufacturer.

An implied warranty is a warranty that a product is fit for the purpose for which it was sold. It automatically applies when a seller offers the product for sale, even if the seller does not mention how the product will perform.

There are two common implied warranties, including:

  • An implied warranty of merchantability; and
  • An implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose.

The implied warranty of merchantability guarantees that a product is fit to use in a way in which it is intended to be used. When the seller sells the product, the implied warranty of merchantability guarantees:

  • The product is fit and suitable and may be used for the ordinary purposes for which a buyer would intend to use it;
  • The quality of the product is adequate; and
  • The product conforms to the promises which were made by the manufacturer, typically found on the container or label.

The implied warranty of fitness for a particular use applies when a product is sold after an individual tells the seller that they want to utilize the product in a specific way. By giving the individual the product, the seller warranties that the product is fit for the use the individual requested. This type of warranty applies in cases where:

  • The seller is aware that the buyer will be using the product or good for a particular purpose; and
  • The seller is aware that the buyer is relying on the expertise of the seller and their knowledge regarding the ability of the product to be used in the way the buyer requires.

Strict liability product defects occur when an individual purchases a product which results in an injury to the buyer due to the product being:

  • Defectively designed;
  • Defectively manufactured; or
  • Lacking proper warning labels.

Under the theory of strict liability, an individual may hold another individual or entity liable for damages or losses without needing to provide carelessness or intent. This theory typically applies to situations where a product is inherently hazardous or dangerous.

Negligence is also a type of defective product claim. Under the theory of negligence, the consumer of the product is required to show that the defendant was not reasonably careful in manufacturing or distributing the product and it was this carelessness which caused injury to the consumer.

Can Guns Be Considered Defective Consumer Products?

Yes, it may be possible for a gun to be considered a defective consumer product. There are three important ways in which the gun industry may be held liable for defective consumer products practices, including:

  • A design flaw;
  • A defective safety feature; and
  • Negligence in manufacturing or distribution.

Similar to the majority of consumer products, a gun may be considered defective if it does not function in the manner in which it was designed to function. This is called a design flaw.

A design flaw may result in a number of defects including a gun which does not fire or a gun which fires accidentally when it is dropped. A gun manufacturer may be held liable for an injury if the gun was used in the way an ordinary consumer would use it and they were injured as a result of the defect.

A number of consumer safety groups have recently begun filing lawsuits which claim that a gun is defective if the manufacturer did not add a reasonable and relatively inexpensive safety feature to keep it from being used by individuals who should not have access to guns, such as criminals and children. Many of these lawsuits have been unsuccessful because the court has held that the consumer should be aware of how dangerous a gun is when they purchase it.

A gun manufacturer can be liable for the manner in which they market and distribute guns under consumer safety laws. Negligence in the manufacturing or distribution refers to a company’s failure to exercise reasonable caution when making or selling its product.

With respect to guns, in some cases, courts have held that a gun manufacturer is responsible for allowing a gun to fall into the hands of certain individuals, such as those with a criminal history.

Do I Need an Attorney to Claim a Gun as a Defective Product?

If you have suffered an injury because of a gun, it is essential to have the assistance of a defective products lawyer. You may be able to recover damages from the manufacturer of the gun.

It is important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible to ensure the statute of limitations does not run on your claim. Your attorney can review your case, advise you of your rights, and assist you in filing a lawsuit to recover for your injuries.

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