Fortson, Bentley and Griffin’s experienced product liability attorneys help people recover money for personal injury or property damage resulting from the use of a product. Product liability cases may involve dangerous toys, automobile design, seat belt failures, improperly designed household products, industrial machinery, products causing explosions or burns, medical devices, and prescription or over the counter drugs.
When a company designs and manufactures a product, it has a responsibility to ensure that anyone exercising reasonable care and using the product in a foreseeable manner will not be injured. A product liability action can be based on negligence, breach of implied or express warranty, or strict liability.
Under strict liability, a plaintiff is not required to prove that their injuries were caused by a company’s negligence. Unlike other product liability claims, strict liability holds the manufacturer, retailer, wholesaler, or distributor responsible for having provided the defective product. Strict liability instead requires proof only that: (1) the product was defective; and (2) the defective product proximately caused injury. Products can have both design defects and manufacturing defects.
In Georgia, our courts have adopted the risk-utility test to evaluate claims of design defects. This is an analysis that incorporates the concept of “reasonableness”, and the court will consider whether the manufacturer acted reasonably in choosing a particular product design given the probability and seriousness of the risk posed by the design, the usefulness of the product in that condition, and the burden on the manufacturer to take the necessary steps to eliminate the risk. A product is considered to be defective due to its design if its inherent risks outweigh the utility or benefit derived from the product.
In comparison, a manufacturing defect is one that is measurable against a built-in objective standard or norm of proper manufacture. To recover on a manufacturing defect claim, the injured party must prove that the particular product that he or she used was not manufactured to its specifications and that this difference was the cause of the injury.
Breach of Warranty
When products are used for their intended purposes, injuries should not be the result. Many products come with a warranty that has either been expressed verbally to the consumer or has been provided in a written document. If this warranty is breached – meaning that the product does not perform as intended – and you are injured as a result, you may be able to file a breach of express warranty product liability claim.
In Georgia, you may also be able to file a claim based upon a breach of an implied warranty. This may occur if a product injures you after using it for its intended purpose, and there are no express warranties for the product. In Georgia, “privity of contract” is required for recovery under implied warranty theories of liability. Only the buyer or a member of her household can recover. The employee of a company that purchases a product is not considered to be in privity with his employer, and therefore cannot recover for breach of an implied warranty in Georgia.
A manufacturer may be liable for injury or death caused by failure to exercise ordinary care in any of several ways, including the following:
- Failure to Adequately Test and Inspect
- Failure to Provide Adequate Instructions, Warnings and Labels
- Negligent Design
- Failure to Issue Adequate Recall Notice
The real tragedy in many defective product accidents is that the manufacturers could have avoided them merely by employing alternative designs or simple safety precautions. In the rush to design, engineer, and manufacture products, manufacturers may allow defective products into the consumer marketplace due to their inadequate or misleading labels, instructions, or warnings. When that happens, accident victims can suffer a wide range of serious injuries. Innocent victims who suffer due to a defective product should be compensated for their injuries and their pain and suffering.
If you have suffered injuries due to the use of a product you believe may be defective, please contact one of FB&G’s experienced product liability attorneys online or by telephone at 706-548-1151 to discuss obtaining a free evaluation of your case.