Consumers use all types of products every day, from shampoo to our coffee maker, to the vacuum cleaner or our child’s car seat. They rely on them to be safe, but people are injured from products that are defective in the way they are designed or manufactured, or if the manufacturer did not warn them about a risk associated with the product.
In the 10-year period from 2006 to 2015, there were an average of 268 product liability cases filed annually in Ohio courts, according to statistics from the Supreme Court of Ohio.
If you were hurt by a product, you may be able to recover damages from the manufacturer of the product or a supplier. Below are answers to some questions about Ohio’s product liability law.
Do I have a product liability case?
A person may bring a product liability case to recover damages for harm from a defective product. Examples of incidents that could lead to a product liability case are:
- Furniture that is unstable and tips over onto a child;
- Toys with small pieces that are a choking hazard to children;
- An electric appliance that causes a fire;
- Faulty car airbags that don’t deploy in an accident;
- Talcum powder whose use is linked to ovarian cancer;
- Asbestos exposure, which causes an aggressive form of cancer called mesothelioma;
- A false claim about the health benefits of a food or drug.
When is a manufacturer or supplier liable?
A manufacturer is liable if:
- Its product is defective in manufacture or construction;
- Its product is defective in design;
- The manufacturer or supplier gave an inadequate warning or instruction about a risk associated with the product; or
- The product did not conform to a representation by the manufacturer.
A supplier is liable in a product liability case if the supplier was negligent, or if the product did not conform to a representation made by the supplier. A supplier can also be liable as if it were the manufacturer in a specific set of circumstances outlined in Ohio’s product liability statute. Ohio Revised Code 2307.73 and 2307.78
How is it determined if a product was defective?
Per liability law, there are a few ways to determine if a product was defective. We’ll go over the basics in each area under Ohio law.
Manufacture or construction
A product is defective in manufacture or construction if it deviates from the design specifications or performance standards of the manufacturer. A product may be defective even though the manufacturer exercised all possible care in its manufacture or construction. Ohio Revised Code 2307.74.
A product is defective in design if the foreseeable risks exceed the benefits, based on the nature of the risks, how likely the users would be aware of the risks, the likelihood they would cause harm, whether the design conformed to a product standard, and whether it is more dangerous than a consumer would reasonably expect. A product is not defective in design if the harm was caused by a generic aspect of the product that cannot be eliminated without substantially compromising the product’s usefulness or desirability, or if a practical and technically feasible alternative design was not available without substantially impairing the usefulness or intended purpose of the product. Ohio Revised Code 2307.75.
Inadequate warning or instruction
A product is defective due to inadequate warning or instruction if the manufacturer knew or should have known about a risk associated with the product and failed to provide a warning. A product is not defective due to a lack of warning or an inadequate warning if the risk is obvious or a matter of common knowledge. Ohio Revised Code 2307.76.
Failure to conform to representation
A product is defective if it did not conform to a representation made by the manufacturer, even if the manufacturer was not fraudulent, reckless, or negligent in making the representation. Ohio Revised Code 2307.77.
What type of damages can I recover in an Ohio product liability case?
You can recover compensatory damages from a manufacturer or supplier, including any economic loss that resulted from the defective product. Ohio Revised Code 2307.79. You also can recover punitive damages against a manufacturer or supplier only if you establish the harm was the result of misconduct by the manufacturer or supplier that showed a flagrant disregard for the safety of anyone who might be harmed by the product.
The amount of punitive damages is determined by the likelihood of the harm and how aware the manufacturer and supplier were of it; the profitability of the misconduct to them; the duration of the misconduct and any concealment of it; their conduct upon discovery of the misconduct and whether it was ended; their financial condition; and other punishments, including awards of punitive damages to others and criminal penalties.
It’s important to note that a manufacturer or supplier is not liable for punitive damages if they complied with government safety and performance standards. Ohio Revised Code 2307.80.
Consult an Ohio Product Liability Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective or dangerous product in Ohio, you should report the problem to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It’s also a good idea to check product recalls regularly.
Next, you should speak to an experienced Ohio product liability attorney as soon as possible. You may be able to recover damages and get the compensation you deserve. Start your free case review with Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz today.