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3 Elements of a Product Liability Claim

Dangerous products flood the marketplace every day, and consumers are often unaware that they are taking home an item that could hurt them. At Surasky Law Firm, our personal injury lawyer can help anyone injured by a hazardous product. You deserve financial compensation for your medical care, lost income, and bodily pain and suffering. 

Many of our clients are harmed when a product catches on fire, explodes, or collapses underneath them. They can suffer fractures, concussion, back injuries, and other long-lasting infirmities. These accidents are often dramatic. A defective appliance, for example, could also destroy someone’s home. 

Our legal team can bring a product liability case for dangerous or defective furniture, such as bookcases and entertainment centers, as well as dangerous clothing, bedding, electronics, or appliances. Virtually any product could have a defective design or be poorly constructed. In South Carolina, you can sue a manufacturer or a seller for injuries and other losses. 

Contact our law firm today to find out more. We offer a free consultation to the public. Below, we highlight the three elements of a product liability claim before discussing a defendant’s possible defenses. 

Element 1: The Product Was Unreasonably Dangerous when Sold 

The first element is showing how the product was unreasonably dangerous. This typically requires showing a defect: 

  • Design defect. A product with a design defect fails to work as a reasonable person would expect it to due to a flaw in design. Think of a child’s highchair whose legs are too close together, making it unstable. That’s a flaw in the design. Other design defects include a bookcase that is too top-heavy and can tip over, or medication which causes dangerous side effects. 

  • Manufacturing defect. Some products are safely designed but become dangerous during the manufacturing process. Imagine a bicycle that is missing screws, which causes a wheel to come off as you ride it, or a product contaminated with dangerous chemicals. 

  • Marketing defect. A product has a marketing defect when the manufacturer fails to provide safety warnings or instructions. For example, bug spray might contain dangerous chemicals, so there should be a warning not to inhale it. A child’s car seat should include clear instructions on how to install the seat. When warnings or instructions are missing, a product can become dangerous. 

Ideally, you should keep the product which injured you, even if it is half-burned or charred. Also save product packaging so we can check for warnings or instructions. This evidence helps us determine if there was a defect when the product was sold, making the product unreasonably dangerous. We might even work with product engineers to inspect a product, since a defect might not be obvious. 

Element 2: The Product Was Unreasonably Dangerous in the Defendant’s Control 

Some products might become dangerous during shipping or delivery. That might not be the fault of the defendant. For example, you sue a manufacturer for a bicycle which is missing screws. You need to show the screws were missing when the defendant shipped the bike. 

When it comes to design defects, the product is almost always dangerous when it leaves the defendant’s possession. However, other defects might arise in shipping or transportation. Your product liability attorney can investigate further. 

Element 3: Your Injuries Were Caused by the Dangerous Condition 

A product can be deadly and not cause your injury. For example, a bicycle could be dangerous, but you actually crashed because you were looking at your phone and failed to see a pedestrian crossing in front of you. 

This element is called “causation.” You need to link your injuries to the product defect. Let’s say you suffer from hearing loss even though your employer provides earplugs. The earplugs might be defective, so we’ll need to show how they failed to work while you were at your construction job. 

Causation might be easy to show. If batteries catch on fire and you suffer a serious burn, then there is a direct link between the defect and your injuries. Unfortunately, not all cases are as clear cut. 

An important note: you can bring a product liability lawsuit even if you didn’t purchase the product. The key is whether it injured you. For example, your cousin might have purchased an entertainment center and installed it in their living room. It tips over and injures your child who is trapped underneath. As a parent, you can sue on your child’s behalf even though you did not buy the defective entertainment center. 

Possible Defenses of a Product Liability Claim

The manufacturer might raise certain defenses to your claim, which your attorney must be prepared to counter: 

  • You misused the product. A defendant needs to protect against foreseeable misuse but not one they can’t anticipate. 

  • You substantially modified the product. The defendant is not responsible if you change the product significantly and this change caused your injuries. 

  • Too much time has passed. South Carolina has a statute of limitations which is three years for product liability cases (S.C. Code § 15-3-530). This is the maximum amount of time you get to file a lawsuit in court. If you waited too long, the defendant could seek a dismissal of your legal claim. 

  • Lack of evidence. There might be insufficient evidence of any of the three required elements. In that case, you won’t win your claim. 

Call Surasky Law Firm. We know how to gather relevant evidence for clients. Defendants often accuse victims of failing to follow directions or deliberately misusing a product. It’s critical to speak with an attorney before you speak with a defendant’s lawyer. You don’t want to accidentally admit to something which bolster’s the other side’s defense. 

Call Our Law Firm Today for a Free Consultation 

We have ample experience with personal injury law and know how to analyze a claim. Let us investigate the product to determine if it was defective. We can then begin compiling evidence in support of your legal rights. Schedule your free consultation today with an Aiken, SC personal injury lawyer at Surasky Law. 




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