When we buy a product from a retailer, we expect it to function as advertised. More importantly, we expect it to be safe to use. Unfortunately, home appliances often cause injury or death when they are designed or manufactured improperly. At Tyroler Injury Law, we know the dangers of defective home appliances, and that is why we represent victims injured by defective products. When you are injured by a defective product, you may be able to seek compensation from the manufacturer or retailer that sold it under product liability law. Call Tyroler Injury Law at 651-259-1113 to set up a free consultation with a St. Paul defective product attorney. We represent clients across Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Types of Dangerous Appliances
Though many products have proven dangerous over the years, home appliances are particularly risky. Some of the most common home appliances to malfunction or have defects include the following:
Stoves and Ranges
Stoves present not only a fire and explosion hazard, but they can also cause carbon monoxide emissions. The knobs, for example, should be designed so they cannot be turned on by accident. Many stoves address this by requiring the user to press the knob in while simultaneously turning it. There have also been instances of tip-overs, where the stove falls and injures people, especially children.
Refrigerators are surprisingly a significant fire risk. Though the purpose is to keep the inside cold, the refrigerator generates a lot of heat. Defective wiring and compressors can make a common household refrigerator a dangerous product.
Pressure Cookers & Slow Cookers
Pressure cookers, like Instant Pots, and slow cookers, like Crock Pots, are a common source of appliance-related injuries. These countertop appliances can lead to burns and sometimes even explosions.
Some of the common physical dangers of defective home appliances include:
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Crushing injuries
- Broken bones
What Is Product Liability?
Product liability is a legal doctrine that holds manufacturers and retailers liable for dangerous products they manufacture or sell. Unlike many personal injury cases, where the victim must show the defendant was negligent, product liability cases typically follow a theory of “strict liability.” Generally, this means that regardless of whether the manufacturer or seller was negligent, it can be found at fault if its defective products injured a user.
Types of Product Liability Cases
Under Wisconsin Statutes Section 895.047(1)(a), for example, there are three ways to prove that a product was defective:
- Design defect
- Manufacturing defect
- Defective or inadequate warning
These three forms of defective products are recognized in most states, though the standards for proving the defect vary depending on your state.
A design defect is a product whose design creates a foreseeably dangerous defect. A defective design means that all products manufactured according to that blueprint will also be defective. To hold a manufacturer liable for a design defect, the claimant must prove that the product posed a foreseeable risk of harm, and a reasonable alternative design could have minimized or eliminated that risk. At Tyroler Injury Law, our experienced product liability attorneys understand the complex legal analysis that goes into proving that a design was defective.
A manufacturing defect, on the other hand, is a type of product defect where the design may have been safe, but something went wrong in the manufacturing process that rendered the product unsafe.
Defective or Inadequate Warnings
Consumer products should come with labels warning the user about the dangers of home appliances and providing instructions on proper use. If the lack of such a warning makes the use of the product unsafe, the manufacturer can be liable for any injuries that result from the use of that product.
Proving a Defect
Proving that a consumer product was defective can be challenging. Though the standard varies from state to state, the general rule to establish strict liability for a product defect is that the victim must show that:
- The product was unreasonably dangerous for its intended use when it was sold
- The defect was the cause of the injuries
A product is generally considered unreasonably dangerous if it contained a defect that made the product more dangerous than a reasonable consumer would expect. This is sometimes referred to as the “consumer expectation” test. Note that this is an objective test.
Reasonable Alternative Design
One element the injured party may have to prove is that there was a reasonable alternative design that would have made the product safer. This argument often requires technical knowledge of the product, which may mean needing to hire expert witnesses to evaluate the product and determine if there was a safer alternative that would not have been unreasonably costly to the manufacturer. Because of the complexity of proving a reasonable alternative design, strict product liability cases can be prolonged and expensive, according to the American Bar Association.
Product Was Not Modified or Used Improperly
Another critical component in a product liability lawsuit is showing that the user did not tamper with the product before using it, or use it in an unexpected way. In other words, if the user modified the product in some way, or used it improperly, and that either caused or exacerbated the defect that caused their injuries, they may not have a strong case for strict product liability against the manufacturer. For example, if a user was burned in a fire caused by a dryer, but the fire started because the user failed to properly clean out the lint trap, the manufacturer will most likely not be liable if the product would have been safe if used as instructed.
Consider Visiting with an Experienced Product Liability Attorney
At Tyroler Injury Law, we do not shy away from challenging large manufacturers, retailers, and insurers. We believe that when companies put unsafe products on the market, they should be held accountable for any injuries they cause to consumers. If you were injured by a dangerous, defective home appliance, consider speaking with an experienced product liability attorney in your area. Call Tyroler Injury Law at 651-259-1113 for a free consultation with a personal injury attorney with experience representing victims of defective products across Wisconsin and Minnesota.