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Articles Posted in Products Liability

A tire blowout can be extremely dangerous, especially at high speeds. When a blowout occurs, the incident often leads to damage, motor vehicle accidents, and injuries. However, determining liability is rarely an easy task. Negligence on the part of the vehicle owner / driver may have been a contributing factor, but it’s also possible that the tire was defective. If you have been involved in an accident caused by a tire blowout, a MA injury lawyer can help you determine who’s liable for any resulting injuries or property damage.

Do You Have a Product Liability Claim?

If your tire blowout caused an accident, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the tire or wheel. In these types of cases, it is common for experts to be consulted. They can analyze the details of the blowout and testify to how it most likely occurred. If the tire was relatively new, properly installed, and recently inspected, your chances of success will be much greater than if the tire is old and worn. Improper installation may have also played a role in the blowout. If a new tire blows out on the road, it is likely due to improper installation or driver negligence.

Driver Negligence

If you are injured or suffer a financial loss due to another driver’s tire blowout, you may have a claim against the driver. Did negligence play a role? This is generally easier to prove than a product defect or improper installation because you only need to show negligence on the part of the driver. And proving negligence, as it pertains to a tire blowout, may be a relatively easy task. The fact is, drivers rarely inspect tires as often or thoroughly as they should, even though they are bound by duty to do so. However, even individuals with brand new tires, a solid tire-maintenance schedule, and whose tires were properly installed can have a blowout due to driver negligence. If you have been injured due to a tire blowout, a Boston injury attorney can help.

Common Tire Defects

A tire can be defective for multiple reasons. Some of the most common include:

  • Manufacturing defects
  • Design defects
  • Improper or inferior materials
  • Old tires that appear new
  • Improper tires for the vehicle type

The side effects of the above defects may include:

  • Tread separation
  • Bead failure
  • Belt separation
  • Tire explosion or blowout

In most single vehicle accidents and rollovers, tire blowouts are to blame. When an older tire is sold as “new,” the tire may appear fine until the driver reaches high speeds. This can be especially dangerous in hot weather. If you are concerned about the safety of your tires, have them professionally inspected as soon as possible. Don’t let something as simple, and inexpensive to fix as a faulty tire, cost you your life. Continue reading

If a product you used caused injury or illness, you may be able to file a defective product liability claim. The injury itself isn’t enough to justify a claim. For example, if you trip over a space heater in your bedroom and are subsequently injured in a slip and fall accident, suing the space heater’s manufacturer isn’t likely to produce results. However, if you are injured when your new space heater catches fire for no apparent reason, it’s a different story. Unless you misused the product, the fire may have been caused by a product defect.

The Elements of a Defective Product Liability Claim

Three main elements must be present for a successful defective product liability claim. These are:

  • An injury or financial loss occurred.
  • There is a defect in the product.
  • Your injury was caused by the defect.
  • You were not misusing the product when the injury occurred.

Keep in mind, you must have actually suffered a loss. If a defective product caused you to slip and fall, but you weren’t injured and no property damage occurred, there’s not much point to filing any type of injury claim. A Boston injury attorney can help you determine if you should file a defective product liability claim for your injuries.

Design Defect or Manufacturing Defect?

If the product was designed correctly but an error occurred during the manufacturing process, the claim is generally easier to prove than if the product was manufactured correctly but the design was flawed.

Olympus Duodenoscope Design Defect

A good example of a product with a serious design defect is the Olympus duodenoscope. This medical product was redesigned in 2010 to keep infectious material from entering the scope. Unfortunately, the new design, which involved closing off a narrow internal channel, actually allowed dangerous bacteria to remain in the product after cleaning. As a result, multiple superbug outbreaks occurred in hospitals throughout the country, and many people were seriously injured or died. Working with a skilled MA injury lawyer is crucial to a positive outcome in cases involving any type of product liability claim.

Takata Airbags

Determining whether a product is defective is not always an easy task. In some cases, the answer is clear. But proving that a product is unreasonably dangerous can be a complex process. Take airbags, for example. Airbags can cause injuries when they deploy, but most of these injuries are considered to be “reasonable” when you take into account their potential for saving lives. However, not all airbag injuries are reasonable. Takata airbags caused multiple injuries and deaths when a defective inflator caused airbags to explode with too much force, hurling metal debris at vehicle occupants. In fact, Takata was just ordered to pay $1 billion in criminal penalties after pleading guilty to wire fraud related to this ongoing case.

Did the Manufacturer Fail to Warn You of a Hazard?

If you can show that the defect was not obvious to an ordinary customer, you will have a better chance at winning your defective product liability claim. If the product had bright red warning stickers on it, you removed them, and got injured doing what the stickers warned you not to do, your chances of a successful claim are limited. If, however, the manufacturer failed to warn you about an inherent danger, you may have a solid case. Continue reading

The controversy surrounding Bair Hugger surgical warming blankets doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. Just one year ago, there were approximately a dozen lawsuits pending against the medical device’s manufacturer, 3M. Today, there are nearly 900. Lawsuits claim that the warming blankets caused surgical site infections. Even worse, new evidence shows that 3M may have known about the risks for years, but failed to warn patients and physicians.

Most commonly used in knee and hip replacement surgeries, surgical warming blankets are associated with an even greater risk of causing infections in people with certain conditions. Some of these high-risk conditions include diabetes, immune deficiencies, obesity, and peripheral vascular diseases. Although the Bair Hugger warming blankets continue to be used widely throughout the medical world, questions about the device’s safety are quickly taking center stage. If you’ve been injured by a surgical warming blanket, contact a Boston defective medical product attorney today.

How Can Surgical Warming Blankets Cause Infections in Patient?

It may seem far-fetched to imagine a blanket causing life-threatening infections in a patient. How is this possible? Well, it’s not really the blanket itself that causes the infection, but rather the warming system that forces warm air into the blankets to keep a patient warm. Because the warming system sits on the floor, it can easily become contaminated. If contamination occurs, the warm air being forced into the blankets can also be contaminated. Having just undergone surgery, the patient will likely have at least one open wound on his or her body. If contaminated air reaches a surgical incision or wound, the bacteria may enter the patient’s body, resulting in infection. Basically, the warming system can circulate the contamination from a hospital floor into warming blankets that are placed directly on the patient’s skin. If you’ve been harmed by a defective medical product, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.

Why Are Bair Hugger Warming Blankets Still Being Used?

If these devices are so dangerous, why are they still being used? Short answer – it’s complicated. For starters, the same question could be asked of a seemingly-infinite number of medical devices, pharmaceuticals, vehicle parts, and other consumer goods. The desire to get products to market fast can cast a dangerous shadow on potential dangers. Furthermore, determining the exact source of an infection is not exactly easy. This is especially true in hospitals. Patients acquire infections in hospitals with shocking frequency. In addition, infections can take weeks to become apparent. Proving that the nearly 900 claimants acquired infections via surgical warming blankets, therefore, can be challenging. That being said, the medical community isn’t going to voluntarily shoulder the blame for warming blanket infections.  And in light of new evidence, physicians are becoming increasingly skeptical of the product’s safety. Continue reading

Seat belt use first became regulated in 1983, when many states adopted laws requiring drivers and front-seat passengers to wear seat belts. Beginning in 1989, laws went into effect that required children in the back seat to buckle up as well. Although injury accidents have seen a dramatic reduction since the beginning of seat belt regulation, seat belts aren’t perfect. They can’t prevent every injury and sometimes they can actually cause them.

What Ford Models are Affected?

Seat belt-related injuries are usually a result of improper use or a manufacturing or design defect. In recent years, multiple vehicle recalls have been issued due to seat belt defects. The most recent recall comes from Ford Motor Company and involves the recall of about 680,000 Ford vehicles due to a seat belt issue. The models affected by the recall include:

  • Ford Modeo cars: 2015-2016
  • Lincoln MKZ: 2013-2015
  • Ford Fusion passenger cars: 2013-2015

Apparently, in all of the models above, heat generated can cause seat belt cables to break during the deployment of a belt pre-tensioner. The pre-tensioner tightens the seat belt in a crash, therefore, this defect may result in less protection during a collision. In fact, two injuries associated with the defect have already been reported.

Ford says it will instruct dealers to fix the problem by injecting a substance into the pre-tensioner that will protect the component from increased temperatures. Ford Dealers should begin fixing the defect at no cost beginning the week of January 16, 2017. If you’ve been injured due to a defective vehicle part, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.

Major Vehicle Recalls of 2016

In many ways, 2016 has been a year of controversy, and lots of folks are ready to see this year come to an end. In addition to a politically-divisive presidential campaign and the loss of several music legends, 2016 saw a significant number of vehicle recalls. As this challenging year comes to a close, let’s look at some of the largest vehicle and vehicle part recalls of 2016.

  • Takata airbag recall: Due to defective inflator and propellent devices, metal fragments could shoot from the airbags when deployed, injuring or killing vehicle occupants. One of the largest vehicle part recalls in history, the Takata airbag recall impacted about 34 million vehicles worldwide.
  • Honda airbags: Nearly three million Honda vehicles were affected by this recall. In some Honda airbags, moisture intrusion could cause the inflator to rupture upon deployment.
  • Nissan passenger occupant classification systems: More than three million Nissan vehicles were impacted by a faulty occupant classification system which could incorrectly register an occupied seat as empty or an adult occupant as a child. This error could, in turn, result in the shut-off of a front passenger airbag.
  • Continental Automotive Systems airbags: Nearly five million vehicles with these airbags were involved in this recall. Due to possible corrosion of the power supply component, these airbags could fail to deploy during a crash or could accidentally deploy for no reason.

Continue reading

When most people think of IKEA, they think of affordable, sleek, modern furniture that customers assemble themselves. However, three recent tragedies may change the way some of us think about the stylish Swedish furniture company. Three wrongful death cases have been filed against IKEA for the deaths of three toddlers who were crushed when defective dressers fell onto them. The lawsuits, for three separate incidents, were filed in the state court in Pennsylvania. IKEA has agreed to settle the lawsuits, which claim the company was negligent in its manufacturing of the dressers, for $50 million.

Although these recent tragedies are especially disturbing, they are not the only wrongful death lawsuits filed against IKEA for defective furniture. In fact, there have been a total of seven deaths linked to the company’s unstable furniture. Further, new evidence shows that IKEA may have known about the risk of death. If you have been injured by a defective product, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.

In the cases involving the three toddlers, IKEA initially denied blame, arguing that the parents were at fault for not properly anchoring the dressers to a wall. The manufacturer’s assembly instructions did, indeed, include this last step. However, the court ruled in favor of the victims’ families, saying that consumers commonly ignore instructions to anchor furniture to a wall. Although this last step may provide better stability, a reasonable person wouldn’t think that ignoring it would result in the death of a child. User error is certainly taken into account in defective product cases, however, it can only go so far. In the above cases, a warning to anchor the dresser was not sufficient to insulate the company from liability.

Massive IKEA Recall

Earlier this year, nearly 30 million IKEA dressers were recalled because they didn’t meet safety and stability standards. In addition to the recall and the large settlement, IKEA is increasing efforts to raise awareness about the importance of furniture anchoring through its “Secure It” program. If you’ve been injured by a defective product, contact a MA injury lawyer today.

The Four Elements of a Defective Product Liability Claim

If you have suffered personal injury or property damage because of a product, you may have a defective product liability claim. To win your case, you must prove that the elements below existed:

  • You were injured or suffered a loss as a result of using the product
  • The product was defective
  • The product’s defect directly caused your injury
  • You were using the product for its intended use

If any of these elements did not exist, you may have a difficult time winning a defective product lawsuit. With the help of a skilled defective product attorney, however, your chances of a successful lawsuit are dramatically improved. Defective product liability is a complex area of the law; find an attorney who has extensive experience in this specific area. Continue reading

A manufacturing malfunction has resulted in the recall of about 69 million Takata airbag inflators, used by 31 different vehicle makes around the world, primarily in cars made between 2002 and 2015. The chemical that is used to inflate and propel the airbag from its casing is prone to spontaneous detonation, which can result in airbags accidentally deploying or rupturing and causing dangerous situations while driving.  If the airbag inflator is improperly activated, it can result in the driver being peppered with metal shards from the airbag’s casing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirmed the 11th fatality stemming from these issues in the United States on Oct. 20th. Nine of these 11 deaths have occurred in either Honda or Acura models. More than 100 people worldwide have been injured as a result of this issue.

Automobile giants BMW, GM, Ford, Audi, Nissan, Jaguar/Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Fiat/Chrysler, Volkswagen, and Toyota are also affected by what has now become described by the NHTSA “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.” In total it is estimated that as many as 100 million vehicles worldwide could be potentially affected. Get the full list of vehicles affected HERE.  The most dangerous models are reported Honda and Acura models made between 2001 and 2003, to which U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “Folks should not drive these vehicles unless they are going straight to a dealer to have them repaired immediately, free of charge.”

Some carmakers not immediately complying with recall

The recall states that these faulty airbags should be replaced by 2019, but this hasn’t stopped Fiat Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Toyota or Volkswagen from manufacturing and selling new cars with these potentially deadly airbags. While this is not illegal due to the recall not being mandatory for another couple years, it is undoubtedly immoral and may certainly result in more accidents and potential fatalities.

These manufacturers argue that studies have indicated the airbags don’t become faulty and dangerous until around six years after they are built, due to the ammonium nitrate degrading over that time by heat and moisture. Some of the inflators have a drying agent built in to prevent this from occurring, but millions more do not. By putting either kind of these potentially-dangerous inflators in new cars, these manufacturers are announcing loud and clear that customer safety is not their primary concern. Continue reading

Citing safety reasons, the short-lived Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has been officially recalled by the worldwide leading technology company after at least five reported incidents within the past week of the phone’s lithium ion battery overheating and causing violent explosions.  These recent explosions put the final nail in the Note’s coffin because they happened with so-called “replacement phones,” which were supposedly safe; a measure that Samsung took after dozens of reports, just in the U.S., of the originally-launched phones having similar failures. As of Oct. 10, Samsung officially called for all Galaxy Note 7 phones to be returned and for its stores to stop selling the device.

All Galaxy Note 7 users should halt use of their phones and return them to their providers for a refund. Samsung announced that returns will be eligible for refunds until at least Dec. 31, 2016. Since one of the explosions happened mid-flight on a commercial airliner, the FAA has issued a statement forbidding the use of the device by flight crew or passengers on any aircraft.  The unprecedented recall of a device that just released in August will send serious shockwaves throughout the tech world. It has been reported that Samsung’s mobile phone stock dropped 8 percent due to the announcement, and The Verge reported they will lose approximately upwards of $17 billion. The exact cause of the mechanical failure is under investigation with Samsung and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Lawsuits likely incoming for Samsung

The recall is sure to spawn class action lawsuits and potentially civil suits against Samsung from the individuals who were harmed from the exploding phones.

One man from Nicholasville, Kentucky was woken up in the middle of the night by a sharp hissing sound. Scared to death, he saw his room filling with black smoke and saw his phone was ignited. A terrible smell filled the air. Later that day, the man went to the emergency room due to feeling nauseous, and reported “vomiting black stuff.”  To make matters worse for Samsung, one of their employees responding to the man’s correspondence about the incident accidentally sent the victim a text message outlining what was obviously intended to be an internal affairs conversation talking about how to handle the man’s situation.  “Just now got this,” the text message from the Samsung employee read. “I can try and slow him down if we think it will matter, or we just let him do what he keeps threatening to do and see if he does it.”  It isn’t known if the man was threatening a lawsuit, but he would have firm ground to stand on if he were to pursue a suit for a faulty product. That accidental text message might not look good for Samsung in a courtroom. Continue reading

Another recall may be on the horizon for Nissan; its 2012 Versa model is being federally investigated for faulty parts. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the vehicle’s airbags may go off at extremely inopportune moments. In some cases, it seems that simply closing the door too hard can cause the airbag to deploy.

Three complaints allege that Versa’s side airbags, mounted in both the seat or the headliner, have gone off following the slamming of a door. In addition to filling the vehicle with dust and forcing the owner to replace an expensive piece of equipment, a randomly-exploding airbag can also be dangerous. This potential recall will involve about 155,000 Versas in the United States. The NHTSA’s investigation will determine whether or not a complete recall is necessary. In the meantime, if you have a 2012 Nissan Versa, report any concerns to the feds rather than the dealer, and if you want to see if you may have a potential claim against the manufacturer contact a Boston motor vehicle accident lawyer today.

Takata Airbags – Largest Vehicle Parts Recall in History

But the complaints about Versa’s airbags are nothing compared to last year’s Takata airbag disaster. The Japanese auto-parts manufacturer recently recalled 34 million vehicles, the largest car and truck recall in US history, following at least six deaths and 100 injuries. According to claims, Takata airbags may explode and shoot shrapnel. Takata wasn’t quick to agree to the recall, however, insisting that a nationwide recall was unnecessary. They even hired three former US Transportation secretaries to help manage the crisis.

Record High for Vehicle Recalls in 2015

Nissan and Takata are far from alone when it comes to equipment defects; last year, the industry recalled nearly 64 million vehicles. This figure was more than twice the total of the previous three years combined. A total of 803 vehicle recalls was ordered last year. Of those, 123 came following NHTSA investigations and 680 were initiated by the automakers themselves. Congress has expressed concern over the reporting and investigation process when vehicle defects are identified.

A 2014 New York Times investigation of the NHTSA revealed that the agency’s response to vehicle defects was wrought with issues; they had been slow to initially identify problems and hesitant to act on them with their full legal powers.

In addition to the dangers associated with faulty or defective vehicle parts, you can also suffer damages due to economic loss. This was never more apparent than with the Volkswagen diesel emissions fraud lawsuit. More than 500,000 VW models immediately lost thousands of dollars in market value when it was discovered that the “bio-friendly” cars were actually releasing more toxic emissions than their standard counterparts. Owners of these vehicles were furious, and understandably so.   Continue reading

Bounce houses are temporary inflatable structures that are often rented for birthday parties, festivals, and other recreational purposes for use by children in and around Massachusetts. These houses are most common during the warmer weather.  Although a popular activity for parents to treat their youngsters with, bounce houses may have a hidden danger as a study published by the University of Georgia reports.  The new study highlights heat safety concerns with bounce houses that can endanger children.  The University of Georgia examines the theory of microclimates within the bounce houses.  The study investigated the potential heat-related risks that can be caused by microclimate environments in bounce houses, similar to microclimates in parked cars.  Parked cars have been notoriously dangerous on hot summer days, especially when children and pets are involved.  The report expands upon this danger and researches if the same risk could be applicable in bounce houses.  The paper titled, “Do Inflatable Bounce Houses Pose Heat-related Hazards to Children” was published July 28 in the early online edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.  Specifically, the study compared temperature and moisture conditions inside the bounce house to the open-air climate outside the bounce house, as well as any consequential health risks that could be sustained form such conditions.  “Heat illnesses like heat stroke can be deadly and occur in children participating in sports, left alone in parked cars, and as our study shows, potentially when playing in bounce houses,” said Andrew Grundstein, UGA professor of geography and co-author on the study.  “Children are more sensitive to heat than adults and parents need to carefully watch their children for signs of overheating when active on hot and humid days. Signs there is a problem may include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and flushed, moist skin.”  Continue reading

Dietary supplements and vitamins are a part of the daily routine of many Americans, but a recent report provides evidence that these daily supplements may actually be harmful to our health.  Consumer Reports published this report in which it showed that the makers of such dietary supplements do not have to adhere to many rules or regulations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  Without adequate guidelines for supplements, retailers and pharmacists may be unaware of potential side effects and drug interactions that can occur.  Another problematic element noted in the report is that these supplements are regulated as food, not as prescription drugs.  Therefore, the supplements do not need to be proven safe and effective and they are exempt from the rigorous procedures and testing that prescriptions drugs must undergo by the FDA.  Ellen Kunes, health editor at consumer reports, urges customers to do more research than just glancing at the label of supplements.  “Supplements have labels that don’t necessarily tell you what they are good for, how they are going to work, whether they will work,” she said. “You can’t trust that they’re going to work or that they will be safe just by looking at the label.”  In its report, Consumer Reports stated that almost 23,000 people are sent to the emergency room as a result of taking supplements every year.  Doctor Marvin Lipman, Consumer Reports’ chief medical advisor, offers a solution to concerned customers.   He instructs customers to look for a USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) label, which signifies the company has verified the ingredients and information that is on the label.  “There’s a paucity of products that are taking advantage of the approval process for responsible companies,” said Lipman.  “Without verification, you cannot be sure that what’s on the label is in the bottle.” Continue reading