Corporations today often attempt to place shareholder profits ahead of public safety. This need to drive profits often results in unnecessary harm to unsuspecting victims. All too often companies are rushing products to the market without a safe product design or failing to warn the public of known dangers.
If you have been injured by a defective product, Missouri law allows you to recover damages from the manufacturer, distributor or seller for all of your harms and losses.
Types of Defective Product Liability Claims in Missouri?
There is no limit on the types of items that may be subject to a product liability suit. They can include mechanical and electronic devices, drugs and medical devices, complex machinery and even items as simple as tarp straps and slingshots. Numerous products are already known to the government as defective and dangerous, listed in broad categories such as: Consumer Products, Motor Vehicles, Boats, Food, Medicine, Cosmetics, and Environmental Products. In addition, recent recalled products are listed as they become known. The U.S. Government website also provides a product recall search for consumers.
Some of the most common items involved in product liability cases:
- Car tires
- Car brakes
- Kitchen appliances such as coffee makers, toasters, ovens and cooktops
- Sump pumps
- Air conditioners
- Space heaters
- SUV Rollovers
- Airplanes and airplane parts
- Medical devices, including valves, implants and prostheses
- Prescription drugs
- Food Poising
- Cell phones and their batteries
- Laptops and their batteries
Product liability claims generally revolve around one of the following three areas:
- Defectively Manufactured Products: This type of defect occurs in the manufacturing process, causing a flaw to the product that makes it different from others being produced and sold. An example would be a swing set with a cracked seat or chain, or a bicycle missing a brake pad. The problem which occurred while the product was being made must be the cause of your injury in order to seek reimbursement for your damages.
- Defectively Designed Products: A product with a defective design means the entire line of products are inherently dangerous, not simply a single one. This type of product liability case is not related to the products manufacture. An example would be space heaters that routinely catch fire due to improper wiring or line of ATV’s that have a tendency to flip over while turning. The defective design, and not improper use must be the cause of the injury in order to successfully seek reimbursement for your harms and losses.
- A Failure to Provide Adequate Warnings or Instructions: In the rush for companies to get a product to the market or to simply save costs, warnings are often left off products. Often companies think that providing a full warning of all known dangers will decrease sales. In addition, companies often do not want to undertake the costs of providing full and detailed instructions on how to safely use a product. Often drug companies fail to warn those consuming their products of the known risks of the medication. The failure to adequately warn or instruct must be the cause of injury in order to pursue reimbursement for your loss.
NOTE: If you or a loved one has been hurt by a defective product, do NOT get rid of the product. The harmful product is now also evidence that may be needed at trial. Do everything you can to preserve the item.
What is Missouri Product Liability Law?
A product liability lawsuit may be filed under one or more legal theories:
- Strict Liability
- Breach of warranty
To make a products liability claim under the legal theory of negligence, the victim must show:
- The defendant manufactured or designed the product;
- The product had a defect/hazard;
- The defendant failed to either design or manufacture the product to be reasonable safe or adequately warn of the risk of harm due to the defect; and
- As a direct result of the failure, the victim sustained damage.
In 1969, the Missouri Supreme Court adopted the theory of strict product liability. In Keener v. Dayton Electric Manufacturing Co., 445 S.W.2d 362 (Mo. 1969), the Missouri’s highest court ruled that if someone sells a defective product that is in an unreasonably dangerous condition, the seller is strictly liability for any harm that results. To make a claim for strict liability due to a manufacturing or design defect, the injured party must show:
- The defendant sold the product during the course of their business;
- The product was then in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous when used in a reasonably anticipated use;
- The product was used in a reasonably anticipated manner; and
- The injured party sustained damage as a direct result of the defective condition.
Under a strict liability theory based upon a failure to warn, the injury victim must show:
- The defendant soled the product in the course of his business;
- The product was unreasonably dangerous when put to a reasonable use without knowledge of the product’s characteristics;
- The defendant did not give adequate warning of the danger;
- The product was used by the victim in a reasonably anticipated manner; and
- The victim was damaged as a direct result of the product being sold without the adequate warning.
Breach of warranty product liability claims may involve any of several different scenarios, depending on whether an express warranty, implied warranty of merchantability, or an implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose was provided to the buyer. A warranty is a statement by a manufacturer concerning their product. When a product fails to do what they say it will do, the company is deemed to have breached their warranty. A claim for breach of warranty is successful only when it can be shown that:
- A duty to the customer was owed;
- A breach of that duty occurred;
- An injury to the customer occurred; and
- The breach of the duty owed was the proximate cause of the customer’s injury.
All of the various legal theories for defective products listed above contain various time limits which may prevent you from pursing reimbursement for your harms and losses. It is vital you contact an attorney immediately to discuss your case.
How to Hire a Products Liability Lawyer?
The economic costs of injuries or fatalities associated with defective products is the responsibility of the company that made or distributed the item, not an innocent person who purchased or used the product. Our products liability lawyers offer FREE consultations to all injury victims. If we are able to help you, we work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we are only paid if we successfully handle your product liability claim.
For a FREE consultation, call 314-409-7060 or 855-402-7274 (toll free). Our lawyers have been recognized as Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers Association and are Life-Time Members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. We are here to help.