Basis for Product Liability Legal Claims

July 12, 2011

When consumers make purchases they expect them to function properly and safely. It is when the purchased defective item causes injuries and illnesses that there are basis for product liability lawsuits. Some of these items are: automobiles, prescription drugs, beauty products, frozen foods, automobile parts and tires, etc.

When Manufactures realize that a product is defective they issue out a recall of that item to consumers. However, recalls do not always keep the consumer safe.

Product liability claims are based on the theory of negligence. The manufacturer has a duty to exercise a reasonable standard of care for developing a particular product, and has failed to do so; thus resulting in harm to the consumer. When making a negligence claim, the injured consumer must prove that the defective product was the actual and proximate cause of the injury. One must show that had it not been for the defective product, the injury would not have occurred. The manufacturer should have foreseen the danger and risk when it sold the product.

Design defect, failure to warn/improper labeling and manufacturing defects are the most common scenarios that form the basis for a product liability claim.

Product liability claims can also be based on the following legal theories:

  • Breach of Warranty – failure to fulfill terms of a promise or claim made regarding the quality and safety of a product. A manufacturer must guarantee certain warranties on products sold and needs to be held accountable when they are breached;

  • Strict Liability – responsibility of the manufacturer to all consumers who might be injured by a product and does not require the injured consumer to prove negligence. The consumer only needs to prove that the product was defective and therefore cause the injury, therefore; making the product unreasonable defective and dangerous. The designer, manufacturer, distributor and seller of the defective product can and should be held liable for the injury and illnesses cause to the consumer.

  • Misrepresentation – when a manufacturer gives the consumer false or misleading information on the safety and reliance of a product. When the consumer relies on this information and is harmed, they can recover money damages.

A consumer can also contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission for further details and advice.

Ford’s Sync and GM’s OnStar Making Driving Safer

June 22, 2011

Ray LaHood, U.S. Transportation Secretary, stated that drivers are distracted by vehicle information and entertainment systems such as Ford’s Sync and General Motors OnStar. LaHood runs the department that oversees the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), who has been developing guidelines, which will be published at the end of the year, for these in-vehicle systems.

These information and entertainment systems connect drivers to their mobile devices and the internet while driving. It also allows for audible GPS Navigation, Music (IPOD, CD and MP3) control and various other technological devices.

GPS systems are suppose to communicate directions to the driver and help the driver maintain their eyes on the road, instead of having the driver struggle to read from an open map. Even, if a driver misses a turn or changes course, the GPS systems immediately re-navigates and re-routes them. Therefore, there is no need to flip through a map while driving.

Automatic Crash Notification (ACN) is offered through OnStar and this device sends a signal to emergency departments when a driver is involved in an automobile accident. It allows the driver to make the call themselves and it also sends a signal when the driver is unable to make a call after an accident to contact an emergency department. ACN reduces the time it takes for the first responders to become aware of a crash, and this is critical to saving lives.

Other controls drivers have with Ford’s Sync and GM’s OnStar are automatic windshield wipers and headlights, Road Hazard notifications and being able to make and receive telephone calls while driving. This is called hands-free technology. It allows drivers to make and receive calls through the automobile’s radio/speaker system and therefore keeps your eyes and hands on the road and steering wheel.

4 Common Causes of Truck Accidents

April 5, 2011

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that almost 3,500 people were killed in the U.S. as a result of heavy trucks collisions, in 2009. Truck accidents are cause by various factors, but for of the most common causes of truck accidents are:

Driver Fatigue

Commercial truck drivers have deadlines to keep, and so they tend to drive for long periods of time and travel further than is safe. When a driver travels for long periods of time it becomes harder to pay sufficient attention to driving conditions and to respond properly to changing circumstances.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) came up with a set of regulations for commercial truck drivers to follow. The Hours-of Service (HOS) regulations states that after 10 consecutive hours off-duty, a truck driver may only drive a maximum of 11 hours, if carrying property. Also, the FMCSA limits the number of hours commercial truck drivers can drive in a seven or eight day period. New regulations, however, will be published by July 26, 2011, by the FMCSA.

Distractions

When drivers are distracted, the likelihood of an accident increases. Most drivers in the U.S. are not allowed to send text messages while driving, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA). More than half of the United States has laws established forbidding texting while driving. The FMCSA, however, prohibits all commercial truck drivers from texting while behind the wheel.

Poor Road Conditions and Maintenance

When road conditions are bad, most drivers try and spend less time on the road. Truck drivers, however, have strong incentives to drive through all kinds of weather in order to arrive by their scheduled deadline.

Truck maintenance is also important. Properly maintained vehicles are safer to drive then those that have defects.

Other Drivers on the Road

Truck accidents are not always the result of the truck drivers fault; sometimes other drivers on the road contribute to truck accidents. Some vehicles try and go around trucks, or miscalculate when driving near or around trucks. You must remember that trucks have bigger blind spots than regular vehicles and therefore a driver must keep a proper distance between themselves and the truck.