The manufacturers of all types of products have a legal duty to ensure that their products are safe when used as intended. But unfortunately, sometimes defective products end up on the market and consumers of these products can suffer serious injuries when using them. When injuries happen due to a product defect, the victims could potentially have grounds for a lawsuit against one or multiple parties involved with the product.
If you or a loved one has recently been injured by a defective or malfunctioning product, you have legal rights. At the Cottle Firm, our Las Vegas product liability lawyers help our clients take legal action against negligent product manufacturers. Contact the Cottle Firm today at 702-722-6111 to learn more about filing a product liability claim.
How Is Product Liability Defined in Nevada?
Each state has its own laws on product liability. While the principles are generally similar across states, specific details may vary.
Nevada law (NRS 695E.090) defines product liability as “liability for damages because of any personal injury, death, emotional harm, consequential economic damage or damage to property, including damages resulting from the loss of use of property, arising out of the manufacture, design, importation, distribution, packaging, labeling, lease or sale of a product.”
The 3 Main Types of Product Liability Claims
Product liability claims are common in virtually all industries, from defective drugs and medical devices to defective children’s toys. However, product liability claims generally fall into one of the following three categories, depending on the type of defect.
A manufacturing defect occurs when an error occurs during the manufacturing process that causes the product to deviate from its intended design, which then causes it to malfunction even when used as intended. If this defect results in injuries to someone who purchased the product, that person may have grounds for a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer.
Some common types of manufacturing defects our Las Vegas product liability lawyers see in our cases include:
- Component deficiencies or omissions – A lack of essential safety features can increase the risk of product-related injuries.
- Faulty installation or assembly – When products are not properly constructed or set up, they can pose significant risks to user safety.
- Manufacturing or machine errors – A lapse in the production or fabrication process can result in dangerously defective products.
- Incorrect programming or calibration – For electronically controlled or precision-sensitive products, imprecise calibration or programming can increase the likelihood of injuries.
- Subpar raw materials – The use of inferior materials during production can compromise the safety of the final product.
While a manufacturing defect is a mistake during the production process, a design defect is an inherent mistake in the way the product is designed, which makes the product inherently dangerous. Companies can be held liable for design defects if the product contains foreseeable risk when produced as intended and used by consumers for its intended purposes.
Here are a few examples of design defects:
- Defects in medical devices that cause severe or fatal side effects
- Poorly designed tires that are prone to blowouts
- Defectively designed airbags that cause injuries when deployed
Failure to Warn
“Failure to warn” applies when a product manufacturer fails to inform consumers of the possible risks of using their product. In product liability cases, failure to warn is considered a product defect.
Product manufacturers only must warn consumers of potential risks if they are not “obvious”. For instance, a knife manufacturer has no legal obligation to provide a warning that their knives are sharp and could cut consumers. Conversely, pharmaceutical companies do have a legal duty to warn consumers of all potential side effects associated with their products.
In a recent high-profile example, Johnson & Johnson was sued and ordered to pay out $18.3 million in settlements for failing to provide sufficient warnings for their talcum powder products. These products were found to increase the risk of ovarian cancer when used for feminine hygiene reasons.
When Can You Sue For Product Liability in Nevada?
Product liability claims can be filed based on strict liability, negligence, or breach of warranty.
Most product liability cases in Nevada are based on strict liability, rather than negligence like some other types of personal injury cases. This means that if you are injured by a defective product, you do not need to prove that negligence caused your injuries. Rather, you only need to demonstrate that you were using the product as intended when you were injured and that your injuries were caused by a defect or failure to warn.
Although it is not required, if negligence was a factor, it can be used as the basis of a product liability lawsuit. To sue for negligence, the injury victim or their product liability lawyer must show that the manufacturer was negligent during the design or manufacturing phase of the process, which led to a defect and the plaintiff’s injuries.
To file a claim based on negligence, the following conditions must apply:
- The product manufacturer, retailer, or another party owed a duty of care to the injured plaintiff
- This party failed to meet its duty of care
- This failure directly led to the plaintiff’s injuries
Breach of Warranty
Product liability lawsuits can also be filed based on a breach of warranty. This can be either an express warranty, where the manufacturer or retailer presents the product as safe, or an implied warranty, where the manufacturer makes a direct statement on the safety of the product.
Who Can Be Held Liable For Defective Product Injuries?
Any party involved in the chain of distribution of a defective product can potentially be held liable for injuries caused by that product. In general, the chain of distribution includes the manufacturer that produced the product, retailers that sell the product, wholesalers, distributors, and other middlemen between the manufacturer and retailers.
The product manufacturer is the first party in the chain of distribution. This manufacturer is often a large multinational corporation, but it can also be a small business or even a sole proprietor operating their own one-person business.
When an injury occurs due to a defective piece of a larger product, both the manufacturer of the product itself and the manufacturer of the defective piece could potentially be held liable. For example, in a product liability lawsuit for a defective airbag, both the airbag manufacturer and the car manufacturer could potentially be held liable. Other third parties involved in the design, manufacture, and marketing of the product can also face liability if they contribute to the defect.
Retailer and Wholesaler Liability
Although retail stores and wholesalers are not involved with the manufacturing of the products they sell, they can still sometimes be held liable for selling defective products. In some cases, both the manufacturer and retailer could be held liable in a product liability claim.
You do not need to be the one who purchased the defective product to file a claim against a retailer. For example, if you were a passenger in a friend’s car and were injured when their airbag was deployed, you could still have grounds for a product liability lawsuit. There is also no requirement that you were using the product when you were injured, as long as your injuries were caused by a defect.
Contact Our Las Vegas Product Liability Lawyers For a Case Evaluation
If you were recently injured by a defective product in Nevada, you may have grounds for legal action against one or more parties. At the Cottle Firm, our dedicated product liability lawyers help our clients fight for the financial compensation they deserve after defective product injuries. To learn more about your legal options in a free consultation, contact the Cottle Firm today at 702-722-6111.