Injuries from defective products are more common than most people realize. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), there were more than 11 million injuries related to consumer products in 2021. And, that number does not include defective automobiles or automobile parts.
At first glance, these product liability cases may seem virtually identical to other types of personal injury cases. For example, if a manufacturer negligently contaminates food and it makes you sick, that is a lot like another driver negligently crashing into your car and injuring you. Product liability cases do often include negligence claims. However, South Carolina applies strict liability to defective product cases. That means that the manufacturer or seller of a product may be liable for injuries that product causes even if they were not negligent.
Note that because of the strict liability law, the manufacturer and/or seller need not know that the product was designed in a dangerous manner, or that something went wrong in the manufacturing process. As long as the product was defective in one of these ways when it left the manufacturer's hands, they can still be held legally responsible. And, product liability does not require a direct relationship between the manufacturer or seller and the injured person. For example, if someone is using a defectively designed motorized skateboard and the skateboard whizzes away from them and injures a third party, that third party may be entitled to compensation even though they did not purchase or use the defective product themselves.
Your product liability case may also include a negligence claim, if you and your product liability lawyer can establish that the company did not exercise reasonable care in the design process, testing the product, ensuring the quality of materials used, or in some other way failed in their duty. In a small number of cases, there may also be a breach of warranty claim. However, these cases are relatively rare, since manufacturers typically take great care not to make promises they could be held accountable for.
There is an exception to liability in defective product cases. Product liability law is intended to protect consumers from unknown dangers, and to provide compensation if they are injured because a product design was defective, the product was manufactured in a defective manner, or the manufacturer/seller failed to provide reasonable warnings. So, if the consumer knew about the problem with the product and chose to use it anyway, the manufacturer will typically not be held responsible.
Generally, anyone in the supply chain can be held liable for damage caused by products that were defective when they left the manufacturer. That means not just the company that made the defective product, but also potentially the wholesaler and the retail outlet where the product was purchased. Usually, you will want to file a lawsuit against each of these possible responsible parties.
In addition, there may be other responsible parties. For example, if you are injured in a car accident because another driver's brakes were defective, you will likely have a product liability claim. However, it is possible that the driver himself was at least partly responsible for the accident. For example, perhaps the other driver was speeding, and might have been able to avoid the collision despite the brake failure if they had been traveling at the proper speed.
These are just a few examples of the additional parties who may have liability after a product related injury. The best way to ensure that you identify all possible responsible parties is to speak with an experienced South Carolina product liability attorney as soon as possible after your injury. Attorney Frank Hartman has made his career helping injured people collect fair compensation. He understands South Carolina product liability law, and the complex process of establishing that a product is defective. He also has extensive experience with negligence cases, including car accident cases, and is prepared to assess your case for all possible claims.
To learn more about how Frank can help you pursue the compensation you deserve, call 843-300-7600 right now or fill out the contact form on this page.
The statute of limitations for product liability claims in South Carolina is three years. That is the same as the statute of limitations for negligent injury claims. That probably sounds like a lot of time, but a product liability case can be very complicated. Extensive investigation may be required to gather evidence about the product and its components, and your case may require the use of expert witnesses. The sooner you contact a South Carolina product liability attorney, the better.
If a product is defective when it leaves the manufacturer, the manufacturer is typically strictly liable for any injuries caused, regardless of whether the manufacturer was negligent. However, the manufacturer isn’t the only party who may be liable. Other possible responsible parties include the retailer who sold the product and the manufacturer who produced a defective component or provided flawed materials. The best source of information about possible responsible parties in your defective product case is an experienced Charleston product liability attorney.
South Carolina product liability law is broad, covering “any product” that is defective in a way that makes it unreasonably dangerous. In addition to the strict liability defective products claim, the manufacturer and others may be liable under South Carolina’s negligence law. In some cases, other types of claims are also possible.