In short, product liability is the written set of laws that hold a manufacturer or seller of a defective product accountable for placing that product into the stream of commerce. Under product liability laws, any party that is responsible for any part of the manufacture or sale of a defective product can be held liable for any injuries that result from that product’s use.
For example, in the process of creating a ride on toy there are often numerous different parties that are involved in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of the toy. For example, one manufacturer may create the battery that powers the unit, while another manufacturer creates the engine or other moving parts, etc.
All of the individual pieces are then brought together and assembled to make the final toy product. After the product is made, one party will be in charge of safely distributing the ride on toy to the final seller, such as a toy retailer.
If the resulting ride on toy that was created is defective, then any of the following parties involved may be held liable for any resulting injuries:
- The assembling manufacturer that assembled the toy together;
- The wholesaler for the toy;
- The dealer that sold the toy to the consumer; and/or
- The manufacturer of the specific piece of equipment that was found to be defective on the ride on toy.
Once again, product liability law is a distinct category of law when compared to ordinary personal injury lawsuits. Product liability laws are designed to protect consumers, as well as compensate consumers for their injuries while also serving as a deterrent to manufacturers by punishing those who make or sell unsafe goods. Thus, product liability laws have determined that manufacturers and sellers are to be held to a higher standard than the average defendant in a typical personal injury civil lawsuit.
In essence, the manufacturer and seller owe a duty to the consumer to prevent dangerous products from entering into the stream of commerce. This heightened standard often makes damage recovery easier for an injured consumer when compared to other civil lawsuits, especially if the injury occurred to a minor.
What Are The Different Types Of Product Liability Claims?
As there are no federal laws governing products liability cases, most product liability lawsuits are filed in state courts in accordance with that state’s specific written product liability laws. However, in order to help encourage as much uniformity within the law as possible, the United States Department of Commerce (“USDC”) published the Model Uniform Products Liability Act in 1979 to help guide state lawmakers in making product liability laws.
Product liability claims are generally based on the on of the following legal theories: negligence, breach of warranty, or strict liability. Strict liability is the most commonly used legal theory in defective product and product liability cases.
A brief description of the three legal theories is as follows:
- Negligence: In a negligence claim the defendant owes the plaintiff a duty of care to prevent an unreasonable risk of harm and injury when using their product. Then, if that duty of care is violated by the defendant, and results in an injury to a user of their product, the defendant may then be held liable for the resulting damages suffered by the end user;
- Strict Liability: Strict liability is similar to negligence, but it removes the intent element. This means that the plaintiff (i.e. the party that was injured) does not need to prove that the manufacturer, seller, or wholesaler acted in a negligent or reckless way. Instead, if the product is defective and causes injury, then liability is proven; and
- Breach of Warranty: In legal terms, a warranty is a type of guarantee that is made by the seller regarding a good or product. A warranty may either be an express warranty or an implied warranty.
- An express warranty is created by an overt statement or action by the seller. For example, if a seller makes an oral or written promise about a product, that product must then conform to that specific use;
- An implied warranty is a warranty that is created by law. Implied warranties apply to products regardless of whether the seller makes any sort of statement or promise. The two most common implied warranties are the implied warranty of merchantability, and the implied warranty of fitness for particular use.
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 that allegedly harmed them, they must typically prove the following:
- That the product was sold to them in the stream of commerce;
- 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;
- That at the time of purchase the product contained a design defect or a manufacturing defect;
- That the defect in the product is what caused the product to be unreasonably dangerous;
- That the defect was foreseeable (i.e. predictable); and
- The defect caused an average consumer to sustain quantifiable damages.
A design defect is a defect in 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 exist when the designer was planning the item, but before the product is actually manufactured. For example, a ride on toy that overheats and causes burns to a child due to a flaw in the product design, would be considered a design defect.
A manufacturing defect is a defect that results from how the product is put together or assembled. In 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.
What Is a Ride on Toy Injury Lawsuit?
Ride on toys, or ride on vehicles, typically refers to a category of children’s toys that are small-scale vehicles that children can ride on or in. Ride on toys are usually motorized (i.e. electrically powered) and travel at relatively slow speeds.
Various incidents can occur while operating a defective ride on toy, such as:
- Battery pack explosions or fires;
- Mechanical failures that lead to serious injuries; and/or
- Tip over or roll over injuries.
Injuries from ride-on toys can include:
- Broken bones;
- Neck and head injuries;
- Burns; and/or
- Other injuries related to the defective product.
Depending on the stated age range for the product use, some ride-on toys can actually reach relatively higher speeds. As such, these products are associated with more severe injuries, due to the higher speeds that are involved.
Who Can be Held Liable for Ride On Toy Injuries?
As mentioned above, various parties can be held liable for ride on toy injuries. For example, the manufacturers of the ride-on toy can be held liable for injuries caused by their defective product. Additionally, the shop that sold the toy or even the wholesaler may also be held liable. A common example of this is where the battery unit explodes, and results in burn injuries to a child. Other injuries include failures of the braking mechanisms or failures regarding the speed regulation mechanisms.
What Are the Legal Remedies for Ride on Toy Injuries?
Ride-on toy injuries can range from minor to serious injuries. As such, the legal remedies available will typically be dependent on the harm that is suffered by the injured person. The most common legal remedy for ride on toy injuries is a monetary damages award.
A monetary damages award is meant to cover the expenses of the harmed party, such as hospital bills and medical expenses. In many cases, a recall of the toy may also be issued. Additionally, if many people were injured by the same product, a class action suit may be initiated against the responsible party.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Ride On Toy Injury?
As can be seen, riding on toy or ride on vehicle injuries can be very serious. As such, if you or your child have suffered an injury as a result of a defective ride on toy, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced class action lawyer.
An experienced defective products attorney will be able to provide you with your best course of legal action, and ensure that you are able to recover for any injuries you or your child have suffered.
Additionally, an attorney will also be able to help you determine the responsible party, and initiate a civil lawsuit on your behalf. Finally, an attorney will also be able to represent you in court, as necessary.