Defective Household Product Caused an Injury?

Charlottesville Product Liability Attorney Explains What to Do

Video Transcript:

Greg Webb:

Do not get rid of the product, that is evidence, and that is the best evidence.

Rob Rosenthal:

If you're injured by a product you have in your household, could you have a right to sue? Well, we're gonna find out right now, because that's what we're going to ask the lawyer. Hi again everybody. I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers.com, and my guest is Virginia attorney Greg Webb. I wanna remind you that if you'd like to ask Greg questions about your specific situation, just head over to AskTheLawyers.com, there's a button in the upper right hand part of the screen that says Ask a Lawyer, click that and it'll walk you through the very simple process, Greg, it's good to see again as always. Thank you for helping us out today.

Greg Webb:

Yes, sir. Nice to see you, Rob.

Rob Rosenthal:

What are some examples of household items that have caused injuries, maybe they're defective, maybe some of them, I guess, could cause serious injuries or maybe even death, tell me some of those that you've had in your experience.

Greg Webb:

I'll tell you what, it's really incredible. One of the things I love about my job is I get to learn about all kinds of different products and engineering. It's never dull. I've had everything from exploding Bic lighters to heating pads, to recently Peloton Tread+ case involving a little girl who was badly injured. 

Rob Rosenthal:

So when someone's injured because of a product that is defective, who's held responsible? Is it the manufacturer or is it the retailer? Is it somebody else? Is all of the above? What happens there?

Greg Webb:

Yeah, well, it kind of is all of the above, it's typically we look at the manufacturer, first, we wanna look at the manufacturer, the design process, the manufacturing process, a lot of times we'll look at the design and warning phase of the product, but we also look at the distributor, and seller, and usually most state laws will allow a case to be pursued against the seller of the product under Uniform Commercial Code principles, so those are the big three typically.

Rob Rosenthal:

And I assume these products are... Many of them are regulated in the manufacturers, maybe there's a recall issue that I'm assuming that happens sometimes on these defective products?

Greg Webb:

Yes, sir. Many times, there'll be recalls, a lot of times what will happen is the government agencies such as the CPSC, Consumer Safety Product Commission, or NHTSA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or the FDA, Federal Drug Administration, will push a manufacturer to issue a recall or the agency will sometimes order it to issue a recall, and so then the manufacturer or seller will do that, and that's what you see a lot of times when these recalls occur. I think recently a Peloton recalled the Tread+ after the CPSC got involved and kind of pushed them along towards that result, but they ended up doing the right thing and recalling that product.

Rob Rosenthal:

If someone's injured Greg by a product that has been recalled, does that mean then they no longer have a case? Is there no more liability?

Greg Webb:

No, that's actually actually, usually helpful fact, if the product's been recalled because it helps with the proof of defect, and that's what we're looking at to prove that this product was defectively manufactured or designed, and if there's a recall, that's pretty good evidence that that is the case. And so, no, it's helpful, a lot of times the government agency will have obtained documents that can be helpful in the prosecution of the case, there's been some investigation, the company will have done some investigation, so all of that can be helpful in pursuing a claim. 

Rob Rosenthal:

So let's say someone's injured by a product in the house, or whether it's the hair dryer or a crock pot or whatever it is, what's your advice? I'm sure they're first thought is, get that thing out here, throw it away. Let's get rid of that thing. What's your advice?

Greg Webb:

Well, that's actually not what they should do, they should first give medical attention, you need to take care of yourself medically, follow whatever doctors recommend, that's the most important thing upfront, but do not get rid of the product. That is evidence, and that is the best evidence. So hang on to that product if you have receipts, hang on to those... Anything you have related to that product: manuals, operating manuals, owner's manuals, any of those. Hang on to them. A lot of times, people now have video in their homes or outside of their homes, if you have anything that may have recorded either audio or visual evidence of what happened, hang on to that. If there were witnesses, you need to identify those folks and get their names and numbers, all of that is helpful. Photographs of injuries. Photographs of the product, your attorney cannot have too much information, they can always sort it out and disregard what they don't need, but having all of that is very critical to developing a case.

Rob Rosenthal:

And then what can an attorney like yourself do for somebody in that situation, Greg? What's the process? How can you help?

Greg Webb:

Well, the first thing we would do is make sure that there is an injury that is connected to the product, that there's kind of what we would call causation, and we need to connect those dots. That's the most important thing, up front. We would notify the company and any other potential defendants of a pending claim and ask them to preserve evidence related to the product and any development of the product and design of the product, we may then set up an inspection with the company of the product, and perhaps testing, but then we began, that's part of the development of the case, and all of that would help us develop that case and pursue first, potentially a resolution without filing a lawsuit, but we have to be ready for a lawsuit, to file a lawsuit and pursue litigation and trial if necessary. Typically, that's the best way to bring a defendant to the settlement table if that's ever gonna happen.

Rob Rosenthal:

The ultimate goal of trying to recover some damages. 

Greg Webb:

That's right, yes, sir. 

Rob Rosenthal:

Lots of helpful information Greg, thank you so much for making some time and answering our questions. 

Greg Webb:

I'm glad to be here Rob, thank you.

Rob Rosenthal:

That's gonna do it for this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been Virginia attorney Greg Webb. Don't forget, if you wanna ask Greg questions about your specific situation, it's easy to do. Go to AskTheLawyers.com, click the button in the upper right hand corner that says Ask a Lawyer, it'll walk you through the process and it doesn't cost you anything to get your answers. Thanks for watching everybody, I'm Rob Rosenthal with Ask the Lawyers.

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