For individuals seeking compensation for harm suffered in using a product, the first question to be confronted is whether the product was the root cause of the injury. Often a product that is intended for a certain type of use is put to another use never contemplated. Consumers may fail to follow warnings and instructions for product use, including those given with medications. And there may be surrounding circumstances that act as superseding causes for a product-related accident.
Determining the cause of the accident is critical to determining which parties are to blame. Massachusetts law imposes strict liability on manufacturers and others along the distribution chain products that are dangerous or defective enough to cause injury or death. The chain of distribution includes wholesalers, packagers, labelers, retailers and marketers.
Even seemingly benign products, such as baby snowsuits and elementary school meatballs, can be the subject of claims stemming from how the product was made, packaged and distributed for its intended use. The law considers the origin or nature of the product’s defect, which may be:
- Design — A poor design caused the defect, making the product intrinsically dangerous
- Manufacture — A mistake during an item’s assembly or production caused the defect
- Warnings — Warnings or instructions were inadequate or missing, affecting the proper use of the product
In addition to identifying the type of problem that caused your injury, your legal team will need to prove that the product’s defect made it unreasonably dangerous, the defect caused your injury (despite proper, intended use) and that the product wasn’t altered by you or someone else in a way that could affect its performance.
In Massachusetts, separate liability may be established in cases of breach of warranty (the product didn’t live up to its claims) or misrepresentations (even negligent ones) about the product’s safety.
After you have sought medical treatment, start collecting evidence to bolster these claims. Take photos of your injury and the scene of the incident, find a receipt of your purchase and ask witnesses to provide statements of what happened when you were injured and collect medical records. Make sure you keep the product or samples of it as part of your evidence collection. As soon as reasonably possible, contact a law firm with experience handling product liability matters.
Swartz & Lynch LLP has successfully represented many clients in product liability cases and has secured multimillion dollar awards on their behalf. From our office in downtown Boston, we serve injured clients in the city and the surrounding neighborhoods of Suffolk County. Call us at 857-250-0664 or contact us online to arrange your free initial consultation.