Likewise, cars can get people injured, paralyzed, or even killed if they are driven at full speed into a tree, but most people would never do this.
In other words, people understand that as long as a product is used as intended, it should work safely and not cause any harm to the user. Unfortunately, while most products created return customer trust with safe operation, there are occasions where even using a product as instructed can still result in harm.
When this happens, it’s an illegal act on the part of the product manufacturer, and the victims have legal options to pursue in court for personal injury—or even wrongful death—due to a defective product. The defects that occur in a product can happen in a few ways.
This is perhaps the most severe product defect that can occur, especially since there should be many safeguards to prevent this from happening. A design defect means that even in the planning stages, a fault is present in the product that the designers and manufacturers fail to realize. Because that defect is in the design itself, that means the defect is built into every product that rolls off an assembly line, just waiting for the suitable condition to manifest.
The most famous example of a design defect is the Pinto automobile manufactured by Ford Motors. The car was designed with a fuel tank placed close to the rear and inadequate protection.
This made the automobile notorious in the 1970s for fuel leaks and even explosions from rear-end collisions that did not affect other vehicles in the same way. As a result, multiples deaths, out-of-court settlements, and finally, lawsuits occurred before Ford finally addressed the issue.
In most cases, a product is correctly designed to be safe during operation, but an error can occur during the manufacturing process that may cause some of the products to be unsafe. Depending on how long this manufacturing error occurred, the defective product may affect dozens or thousands of people until the manufacturing error is identified, traced back to the factory, and finally addressed.
One tragic example of a manufacturing defect is the contamination of unpasteurized apple juice from fruit juice company Odwalla in Washington State. A combination of the company practice of not pasteurizing juices and improper harvesting at one of the apple orchards providing apples to the company resulted in batches of apple juice containing the dangerous E. coli bacteria. As a result, one 16-month-old girl died, while 66 children and adults were hospitalized due to infection from consuming the apple juice. The juice was ultimately recalled, and Odwalla changed its manufacturing practices to include pasteurizing the juice to ensure it was free from bacteria.
Sometimes, people get harmed by products because they don’t know the safest way to use the product and don’t receive sufficient guidance from the manufacturers to do so. For example, while not aiming a firearm at someone or not sticking a hand in an active lawnmower are common sense practices that most people can figure out for themselves, in other situations, the safest way is not always clear.
This is especially true in the case of pharmaceuticals. Some drugs are extremely “robust” in the sense that they can be used safely with little or no precautions. Other drugs, however, are susceptible to exposure to other chemicals and will interact with them in ways that can be harmful. Sildenafil, more commonly known as “Viagra,” for example, can have a lethal effect on users if combined with isosorbide mononitrate, an ingredient found in certain types of heart medication.
In other words, men using sildenafil to treat erectile dysfunction may end up sick or dead if they are also on a prescription for certain types of heart condition medication.
In some instances, pharmaceutical companies may fail to identify which interactions on drugs may cause severe reactions. There are other cases, such as the use of corrosive chemicals in paint remover, where cautions are required but not used, or even inadequate instructions on how to use a specific product, such as pressure cookers, where improper use can result in an explosion.
If you or someone you know has been injured or suffered the loss of life from a loved one due to a defective product, talk to a personal injury lawyer about your defective product-related injury.