Product liability law is the result of a New Jersey statute and case law which relates to injuries sustained as a result of the improper manufacture or design of a product which is sold to an end user or “placed into the stream of commerce.”
Under New Jersey law, an individual who sustained a personal injury as a result of a defective product is entitled to be fully and fairly compensated for pain and suffering, disability and impairment and loss of enjoyment of life.
In New Jersey, there are generally two types of product liability cases. The first is where a product is designed improperly and the negligent or improper design causes a bodily injury to the end user. An example of “negligent design” cases is when an automobile manufacturer improperly designs a car and that design leads to death or serious injury of the end user. A famous example of a “design defect” which caused death or serious injury to the end user is the design of the gas tank Ford Pinto in the early 1970s. Ford Motor Company’s improper design of the vehicle positioned a bolt from the differential in close proximity to the gas tank. When a Ford Pinto was rear ended, the impact often caused the bolt to puncture the gas tank thereby allowing gasoline to leak and ignite. The proper design would have been for the Ford Motor Company to place a rubber grommet over the bolt which would have prevented the puncturing of the gas tanks on rear impact.
Other examples of “design defect” cases include situations where the manufacturer of a product fails to warn of the potential dangers of utilizing the product. These types of cases are often seen with prescription medications, medical devices or instruments or devices which are generally dangerous in nature. In these types of cases, the manufacturer has an obligation and duty to warn the end user of the potential side effects and/or risks of using the product and allowing the consumer to make the final determination as to whether or not they will use the product despite the warnings. The absence of any warnings or the absence of a full and complete warning can qualify as a “design defect.”
The second type of product liability case is where the product is actually designed properly but something goes wrong during the manufacturing process and either one or a limited number of the product is improperly manufactured. Specifically, if a product is not built to its specifications and the improper manufacture of same causes a personal injury, the end-user would have a legal claim.
Because product liability claims are usually difficult and intricate, it is imperative to seek the advice of a lawyer to determine your legal rights as soon as possible after an injury occurs. You should never discuss this matter with the manufacturer of a product or their representatives before speaking to a lawyer. Further, it is also important to note that the improperly designed or manufactured device must be preserved as soon as possible after the injury so that the appropriate experts can inspect the items to determine the existence of a negligent design or a failure in the manufacturing process.