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What are the Laws on Product Liability in Pennsylvania?

May 21, 2019

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

In the middle of April, a woman filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The lawsuit alleges that she was injured by the blender, SharkNinja. As the woman’s fiancé was assembling the appliance, a blade came loose. Unaware of what it was, the woman reached out to grab it and sliced her hand. She named Macy’s Retail Holding and SharkNinja Operating LLC as defendants in the lawsuit and is seeking $75,000 in damages.

Unfortunately, this is just one of many lawsuits filed every day due to injuries from dangerous products. Manufacturers and sellers have a responsibility to keep consumers that use their products safe. When they fail to do so, those hurt can hold them liable for their injuries. This is known as product liability, and this post will take a closer look at these laws in Pennsylvania.

Types of Defects in Product Liability Cases

There are three main ways a product can be found defective. These include defective designs, a manufacturing defect, or a failure to warn of inherent dangers.

In Pennsylvania, the courts will consider two important standards pertaining to a defective design. The first is the consumer expectations standard, which questions whether the product is more dangerous than a reasonable person would expect. The second standard used by the courts is the risk-utility standard. This standard examines whether or not the injury resulting from the defective product was serious enough to have outweighed the cost of taking protections against the occurrence of the injury.

For example, applying both standards, a consumer would expect that the blade of a knife is sharp. This meets the consumer expectations standard and the risk-utility standard. If the handle was also sharp though, the manufacturer should take precautions so no one becomes hurt, because consumers would not expect the handle of a knife to be sharp.

While those two types of defects involve design flaws, some products are defective due to manufacturing flaws. With these types of defects, the idea of the product was solid, yet the execution of actually making the product was not. In these cases, manufacturers have strict liability. This means that they didn’t have to know or realize their product could hurt someone. If someone is injured due to a manufacturing defect, the manufacturer is automatically held liable.

Lastly, a failure to warn or a failure to include proper instructions is also a type of defect in product liability cases. The most recent case is a great example of how a failure to warn can cause serious injury.

The Statute of Limitations and the Exception to the Rule

Like most personal injury cases in Pennsylvania, product liability cases have a statute of limitations of two years. This is the time limit someone has to file a lawsuit. When claims are filed after this time, those injured are typically barred from receiving compensation. However, in product liability cases, there is an exception to the rule.

This is when the defect has been fraudulently concealed. For example, if an internal medical device fails, a patient would have no way of knowing about it. If their doctor knew, and didn’t tell the patient about the defective product, the two-year statute of limitations is extended. The courts may allow a lawsuit to be brought forward from two years the date the patient discovered the defective product, or two years from the date a reasonable person should have discovered it.

Have You Been Hurt by a Defective Product? Contact a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawyer

If you’ve been injured by a defective product, you have rights and one of our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers will ensure they are upheld at all times. At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, we are passionate about helping those injured recover what is owed to them. We’ll hold manufacturers and sellers liable for their defective products and get you compensation that can help you move on from your accident. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or fill out our online form to learn more about how we can help.



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