Have you ever been injured by a product? Do you know someone–a family member, friend, or acquaintance–who was injured by a product? In Nevada, injuries caused by a product might be compensable pursuant to the theory of strict product liability. Strict product liability imposes legal responsibility for damages and injuries, even if the person or company found strictly liable did not act with fault or negligence.
Types of Product Liability Claims
The types of product liability claims are (1) defective manufacture, (2) defective design, and (3) failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions regarding how to properly use the product. Let’s review each type of claim.
An example of a manufacturing defect would be a contaminated prescription drug or the premature break of a metal hip replacement due to substandard manufacturing practices.
An example of a design defect would be the Ford Pinto, which had its gas tank located behind the rear bumper, causing it to explode in rear impact accidents.
An example of a failure to warn case would be a coffee cup not having the wording “Caution: Contents Hot” on the lid, and then someone getting burned from drinking it.
Design Defects and Manufacturing Defects
Regarding design and manufacturing defects, a product is defective if 1) it failed to perform in the manner an ordinary consumer would reasonably expect in light of its nature and intended function and 2) the product is more dangerous than would be contemplated by the ordinary user, having the ordinary knowledge available in the community. Ginnis v. Mapes Hotel Corp. 86 Nev. 408 (1970).
Proof of unexpected dangerous malfunction may be accepted by the trier of fact as sufficient circumstantial proof of the defect or an unreasonably dangerous condition. Generally, the jury instruction given to the trier of fact (i.e., the jury) is Nevada Jury Instruction NJI 7.3 Manufacturing defect which states “a product is defective in its manufacture if the product malfunctions unexpectedly and as a result of the unexpected malfunction, the product is unreasonably dangerous.” Evidence of an unexpected dangerous malfunction gives rise to an inference of a defect.
Failure to Warn
Failure to warn involves the lack of ordinary consumer knowledge of the dangers from foreseeable use. A product can be defective for purposes of strict liability as a result of failure to warn, even if the product is properly designed and manufactured. Strict liability arises for failure to warn where the company failed to give suitable and adequate warnings concerning the safe and proper manner in which to use it. Gen. Elect. Co. v. Bush, 88 Nev. 360. This includes all foreseeable uses. Outboard Motor Corp. v. Schupbach, 93 Nev. 158 (1977). Therefore, products must include warnings that adequately communicate the dangers that may result from its use or foreseeable misuse; otherwise, the product is defective. Fyssakis v Knight Equip. Corp. 108 Nev. 212 (1992). A warning must 1) be designed so it can reasonably be expected to catch the attention of the consumer, 2) be comprehensible and give a fair indication of the specific risks involved with the product, and 3) be of an intensity justified by the magnitude of the risk. Lewis v. Sea Ray Boats, 119 Nev. 100 (2003).
If you know someone who was injured by a defective product or has a question about a potentially defective product claim (or any injury-type claim,) please call our office and speak with the best Personal Injury Attorneys in Las Vegas today.
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