Any product that fails can give rise to a product liability case. If a nail gun misfires, if a ladder breaks under a 190-pound worker and it’s rated for 250 pounds, if a tire comes flying off your car while you’re driving, causing your car to fall, you could have good grounds for a product liability case.
Let’s walk through that last example in more detail to show you how our firm would handle the case. Say your tire came off on the highway, putting you at great risk. Our approach is to look at every aspect of the issue. Was the car serviced recently, and if so what was done to it. Had the tires been rotated? Where? Perhaps they could have put the lug nuts back on improperly?
But what if the lug nuts are sheared off and broken. A metallurgist hired by our firm may see that the design was flawed, and the metal used was fatigued and broke apart when it shouldn’t have, or the manufacturer used an improper component that couldn’t be relied on to withstand that particular purpose.
That’s the case of a product. The fault was with the company that made the device, not the operator or people who serviced the device.
Here’s a case our firm had: A patient with a pacemaker needed to have it adjusted and went under the knife. The surgeon couldn’t get the screw out that allowed adjustments. Every time he tugged on it, it caused damage to the patient. The surgical team basically had to do open heart surgery to cut the pacemaker out.
The question was, was that medical negligence, or did the product itself fail?
The only way to find out was to get the medical records and try to do all possible investigations. The doctor said the screw was supposed to pop out when turned counterclockwise, and that he was doing it correctly with the tool provided by the company, but it never popped out.
Fortunately, the surgical team held onto the pacemaker. It was given to an expert who examined it and said the threading didn’t work correctly. He was able to explain from an engineering standpoint why the design was faulty.
That placed it as a product liability case, not a medical malpractice case.
In Massachusetts, workplace injuries are often ineligible for lawsuits, lawmakers have instead decided to have workers receive workers’ compensation instead to pay the medical bills and the lost wages. However, some workplace injuries may turn out to be product liability cases. Some heavy machinery pieces have rear-facing cameras to prevent injuring people when backing up. If that camera was to fail and a worker was injured as a result, that would be a product liability case.