Product Liability

warning sign that says "irritating to eyes and skin. harmful in contact with skin and if swallowed"
Both Montana’s consumers and its businesses have a significant interest in ensuring that products designed, manufactured, and sold in the state are free from defects and contain the appropriate warnings.

What is Product Liability?

Product designers, manufacturers, and others involved in the distribution chain have a legal and moral responsibility to ensure their products’ safety. Unfortunately, sometimes products fail to meet mandated safety standards. Despite the intentions of those involved in the product creation and distribution, product defects can result in injuries. Some of the most common product issues include:

  • Electronics
  • Defective vehicle parts, such as tires and airbags
  • Safety equipment and tools
  • Medical devices
  • Medicine
  • Job tools and materials

If you believe you were injured due to a defective product in Billings, MT, you must file a claim within three years. If you don’t file within the statute of limitations, you forfeit your right to obtain compensation for the damage. The sooner you file a claim, the more likely you can preserve evidence critical to your case. The attorneys at Ritchie Manning Kautz, PLLP Law, can help you gather the information you need and file a claim for damages caused by a defective item.

What Are Different Types of Product Defects?

No matter how careful the design or manufacture of a product, if it’s faulty in any way and caused damage, one or more parties may be liable. Damages covered by product liability law are those caused by flawed design, manufacturing, and marketing defects.

Design Defects

Defective design cases involve claims that a product or line of products is inherently dangerous, even though the product that caused the injury was made according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Examples include:

  • Sunglasses that don’t protect the eyes from UV rays
  • Electric blankets that electrocute the user when used on high
  • Cars that have a high potential to flip over when going around a corner

Design defects mean that the whole product was either designed poorly or not tested adequately, potentially making all products dangerous, not just a single item. If you crashed when driving a car prone to flipping, you must prove the accident occurred because the car was flipping over while turning.

Manufacturing Defects

A product with a manufacturing defect indicates an error during its production, including issues at the factory where it was made. As a result, not all products are dangerous. Instead, it may be a single item or product created during a particular time or on specific equipment. Examples of manufacturing defects are:

  • Missing brake pads on a moped
  • A racked chain on a swing set
  • A poisonous substance in a tainted batch of cough syrup

In each case, any injuries must have been caused by a flaw that occurred during the manufacturing process. If you were riding a moped, misjudged the turn, and drove off the road, the injuries would only be considered a manufacturing defect if you could prove the missing brake pads caused the damage. If you took the turn too fast or didn’t steer correctly, it is not a manufacturing flaw.

Marketing Defects

Also known as failure-to-warn claims, these cases involve injuries caused because the product was not accompanied by adequate warnings or instructions regarding proper use. Liability occurs when a product is dangerous in a way that is not obvious or requires special precautions. Examples include:

  • Cough medicine that doesn’t advise that taking it in combination with another common medication can have dangerous side effects
  • Electric tea kettles that don’t provide a warning about the oddly positioned valve
  • A corrosive chemical used for removing paint that doesn’t include adequate safe-handling instructions

If you sustain injuries because you were unaware of the chemical’s effects on your skin, or the consequences of taking a particular medication with the cough syrup, you may have grounds for a claim.

Who is Liable in Product Liability Cases?

Depending on the issue that caused your injuries, one or more parties may be held liable. The designer of a flawed product or part that fails in a larger item may be held responsible for your injuries. The manufacturer of a product may use components from other manufacturers. The manufacturers linked to the defect that caused your injuries may be held legally responsible for the damage.

Companies that sell products have a responsibility to ensure they are safe for consumers. Resellers and retailers throughout the supply chain may be liable for any defective products they sell. Montana holds sellers, distributors, and manufacturers of dangerous products to strict liability standards. Victims can seek compensation for injuries even if they contributed in some way to the product’s fault.

How can you protect yourself from product liability?

From food service businesses to children’s apparel companies and automobile manufacturers, there is potential for product defects that result in property damage or bodily harm. Product liability insurance can protect organizations from the fallout that may occur if a product they sell causes damage or injury to a third party. The experienced team at RMK Law can help you manage your company’s exposure to product liability risk.

How Do You Prove a Product Was Defective?

Product liability laws are complex. If you suffered injuries or other damages because of a prescription drug or dangerous product, you might have grounds for a claim. You must be able to prove the following elements in your claim:

  • You suffered losses or injuries
  • The product is defective
  • The defect caused the loss or injury
  • You used the product as it was intended

Compensation can cover a broad range of costs, including:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Destroyed possessions
  • Changes to your lifestyle due to the injury

A product dispute attorney at RMK Law in Billings, MT, can evaluate your case and help you determine your options. Contact us today to learn more about your rights and schedule a free consultation.

Risks of Defective Products

For consumers, the risks of defective products typically involve serious injury or even death. For businesses, they range from significant financial impact to adverse publicity to regulatory concerns. Either way, disputes involving product liability have serious consequences and often involve complex legal issues.

Whether you are an individual impacted by a defective product or a company accused of designing, building, or distributing one, the lawyers at Ritchie Manning Kautz can help. We represent clients in cases involving injuries from dangerous products, products that do not work as intended, and failure-to-warn issues.

Product Liability Examples:

  • A product liability case in Flathead County, Montana involving a roofing system designed to melt ice
  • Product liability and breach of contract and warranty case in Billings, Montana involving an allegedly dangerous automobile.
  • A product liability case involving a Great Falls, Montana company that designed a temperature and control system used in a high-end home north of Lewistown, Montana.

Contact the Offices of Ritchie Manning Kautz PLLP

Call  (406) 601-1400 to schedule a consultation at your convenience or contact us online and we will reach out to help you with your case.