In short, product liability is the set of written laws that hold a manufacturer or seller of a product accountable for placing a defective product into the stream of commerce.
Under product liability laws, any party responsible for any part of the manufacture of a defective product can be held liable for any injuries that result from the use of the product that was placed in the stream of commerce. Importantly, this includes any seller of the defective product, such as tool wholesalers or stores.
For example, in the process of creating a tool there are often numerous different parties that are involved in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of the tool. For instance one manufacturer may create a certain mechanism or part of the tool, while another manufacturer provides the materials necessary to create the part, etc. After the product is made, one party will then be in charge of safely distributing the tool to the final seller.
If the resulting tool that was created is defective, such as by failing to function in the way that it was intended to function or containing an inherent risk to the end user, then any of the following parties involved may be held liable for any resulting injuries:
- The assembling manufacturer that assembled the tool together;
- The wholesaler for the tool;
- The store that sells the tool to the consumer; and/or
- The manufacturer of the specific part of the tool that was found to be defective.
What Are The Elements Of a Product Liability Claim?
In order for a consumer that was harmed by a defective product to be successful in their civil lawsuit against the party responsible for their injures, they must typically prove the following:
- First, that the product was sold to them in the stream of commerce;
- Second, that the seller or manufacturer was under an obligation to sell or manufacture the product in such a way to meet the ordinary expectation of average consumers;
- Next, that at the time of sale the product contained a design defect or a manufacturing defect;
- Next, that the defect in the product is what caused the product to be unreasonably dangerous;
- Next, that the defect was foreseeable (i.e. predictable), and that an average consumer could have been injured by the presence of the defect; and
- That they suffered an injury that resulted in them sustaining quantifiable damages.
- It is important to note that typically the plaintiff (i.e. the party that was harmed) will request that the party that harmed them pay for their damages, which will be expressed by a financial figure.
Once again, a design defect is a defect in the product that affects the way a product is initially designed to work. The defect in the design renders the product as inherently unsafe to the consumers that the product is sold to. Design defects typically exist when the designer was planning the item, but before the product is actually manufactured.
For example, a tool that is intended to operate in a certain way, but instead operates in a way that harms the user of the tool, is likely a flaw in the product design. If a user purchases a power tool to drive a nail into the wall, but instead the product electrocutes the consumer, that would be considered a design defect.
A manufacturing defect is a defect that results from how the product is put together or assembled. In most manufacturing defects, prior and up to the point of assembly, there is nothing actually defective about the product. However, during the assembly process, the product becomes defective either due to some mistake or incorrect assembly.
For example, a machine not being properly examined to ensure that it is functioning properly, may result in the machine not performing properly and resulting in mistakes being made during the assembly process. These mistakes during the assembly process may render the product as unsafe, especially with respect to the product’s potential to cause harm or injury.
To illustrate, if in the manufacture of a power tool, the safety mechanisms for the tool do not function properly, then that would be a manufacturing defect by the manufacturer of the product.
What Are Power Tool Injuries?
The term power tools typically refers to hand tools that use electric or gas power to create additional force. In most cases, power tools involve rotating parts or other similar mechanisms meant to be used to allow an operator to accomplish more tasks in a shorter period of time. Examples of common power tools include power saws, rotary saws, drills, power wrenches, and other similar mechanical products.
As mentioned above, power tool injuries can occur in instances where there is either a defect in the manufacturing or design of a particular power tool. Power tool injuries can also be attributed to negligent or reckless handling of a power tool, which results in injury to the tool user or a person nearby. In these cases, the injured party may be held liable for causing injuries to themselves or others under a theory of negligence.
Common power tool injuries include lacerations, cuts, rashes, broken bones, loss of limbs, or other injuries related to the use of the power tool. Certain tools that involve very high rates of rotations may also result in specific injuries, such as vibration white finger or hand-arm vibration syndrome. In more severe cases that involve power tools failing to operate properly, the injuries may even result in wrongful death. For example, an industrial meat grinder failing to have proper safety mechanisms in place may result in the death of a user.
Who May Be Held Liable for a Power Tool Injury?
As mentioned above, there are numerous parties that may be held liable for a power tool injury, including the manufacturer, wholesaler, or even the store that sells the power tool. Further, liability for power tool injuries can be based on various legal theories, such as a warning defect, manufacturing defect, or a design defect.
As briefly mentioned above, some power tools may result in injury to a person besides the tool operator or handler. In these cases, the person operating the tool may be held liable for injuries to the other person if they were negligent. A person is typically negligent if they disregarded their duty of care in properly handling the equipment or tool.
In many cases, power tool injuries occur while on-the-job, resulting in a work-related injury. In these cases, a supervisor or manager may also be held liable for an employee’s injury if they knew or should have known of a risk of injury with a power tool, yet failed to take measures to prevent the injury or accident to the employee.
Are There Any Legal Remedies for a Power Tool Injury Claim?
As in most personal injury cases, a power tool injury claim may result in a monetary damages award for the injured party if they are able to prove their claim against the party that harmed them.
Damages for power tool injuries are often financial in nature, and the damages award is meant to cover losses such as:
- Medical bills, including hospital expenses;
- Damages related to scarring and disfigurement;
- Loss of earning capacity, if the injured party is unable to perform their work;
- Property damage;
- Loss of income, as a result of missing work; and
- Any other damages that may be brought in a civil claim, including punitive damages if the party that harmed the plaintiff was grossly negligent.
Once again, in cases where the injury is work-related, various other compensation mechanisms may come into play, such as workers compensation.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With a Power Tool Injury Claim?
As can be seen, power tool injuries can often result in severe physical injuries. As such, if you have been harmed as a result of a defective power tool, or have been harmed as a result of the operation of a power tool, it is in your best interests to immediately consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.
An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to assist you in determining the party responsible for your injury, as well as help you initiate a lawsuit to recover your damages. Finally, an attorney will also be able to represent you in court, as necessary.