About the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Product Liability

About the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Product Liability

Defective consumer product claim lives and cause many injuries every year. A government agency, the federal Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), is charged with keeping American consumers safe from dangerous and defective products that pose electrical, chemical and mechanical hazards. This is a huge task, made more complex by the huge number of imported goods and parts that come into the country.
The CPSC promotes safety education, issues product recalls and conducts research. Its safety education campaigns involve products such as ATVs, cribs, drywall, magnets, fireworks and window covering. The research covers a wide range of topics, including deaths from particular types of products, proposed legislation and results of safety tests. The agency holds hearings and advises the government on consumer safety matters.
Recent recalls provide an illustration of the scope of the CPSC. In this month alone, the agency has issue recalls for:

Batteries
Light fixtures
ATVs
Strollers
Arrows used by bow hunters
Baby bath seats
Furniture
Heaters
Children’s shoes
Pill bottles
Machetes
Cups
Emergency alert devices
Individuals injured by defective products may be eligible to file lawsuits seeking compensation for their injuries and damages. Many lawsuits involve products such as automotive parts, medical devices, contaminated food and beverages, fertilizer, children’s products and prescription drugs.
To file a lawsuit, it is not enough to have been injured when using a consumer product. In most states, a consumer must show that there was negligence involved in the design, manufacture, distribution or sale of a product. Another way to assign liability for a defective product is to claim breach of warranty or misrepresentation in advertising and sales. Finally, an injured person can file a claim based on strict liability that makes vendors liable for injuries caused by products they sold, even if they had no involvement in the manufacture of an item.
And this is only the beginning of the legal issues involved in product liability claims. Injured people must prove that their injuries were caused by the product, that the product was being used as intended, and that the manufacturer or vendor failed to warn of potential hazards and dangers to users of a product.
Such lawsuits are legally complex and in some instances are very difficult to win. For example, what if a defect was introduced by a foreign manufacturer who could not be found? What if the consumer did not preserve the product, its packaging or the user instructions? These and many other issues make product liability cases challenging for attorneys.
The law of product liability changes frequently, adding to the challenges of undertaking a product liability case. A recent Supreme Court decision limits the ability of consumers to file lawsuits over generic drugs. The decision was based on the fact that generic drug makers have no control over how a medication is formulated and thus cannot be held liable for injuries or fatalities resulting from taking a generic medication. Critics of the decision have said that it makes no sense to be able to file lawsuits over brand-name drugs but not over generic drugs.
The ability to file lawsuits and the work of the CPSC are two important protections for consumers. A product liability attorney can discuss your situation and determine whether you have a case after being injured when using a consumer product.

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