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Virginia Product Liability Lawyer

Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of the consumer products are required by law to make sure that their merchandise is safe for public use and consumption. Companies that produce defective or unsafe products can be held legally responsible for injuries and other damages suffered by the consumers of their defective products. A Virginia

dangerous products lawyer can help you file a personal injury claim if you or someone you love has been injured or fallen ill due to defective merchandise or products. Personal injury claims for dangerous products can be filed for any of the following three reasons:

  • Negligent Design: A manufacturer has a duty to exercise ordinary care when designing a product that is reasonably safe for its intended use. Negligent design occurs where a manufacturer breaches this duty and designs a product that is unreasonably dangerous Examples might include tires that are prone to blowouts due to improperly calculated stress loads, or a car jack that does not hold its rated weight.
  • Negligent Manufacture: Much like the duty to exercise ordinary care in designing a product, a manufacturer also has a duty to exercise ordinary care in the manufacturing process itself. Even a well-designed product could cause harm to a consumer due to negligent manufacturing. For example, a manufacturer can be liable for failing to use safe materials or failing to inspect or test goods for manufacturing defects. Even where a manufacturer fails to test its products, a plaintiff must show that the product is unreasonably dangerous when used as intended or used in an otherwise foreseeable manner.
  • Negligent Failure to Warn: The manufacturer of a product must warn consumers of non-obvious dangers, or the risks caused by foreseeable misuse. Power tools are a common example of a type of product that often requires a warning to consumers about dangers posed by foreseeable misuse. Typically a manufacturer will not be liable for failure to warn of an obvious danger.

Injured consumers in the Commonwealth of Virginia may also have causes of action against a manufacturer for breach of express or implied warranties.

Implied Warranties

In most products liability cases, a plaintiff is likely to assert a claim for breach of the implied warranty of merchantability. The implied warranty of merchantability basically means that a seller of goods is implying that the goods would be acceptable in the trade and function as intended. The implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose arises where a seller has knowledge of a buyer’s intended use of the product, and recommends a product for that specific or particular use. A Plaintiff must prove that: (1) the seller knew or had reason to know the purpose for which the buyer purchased the goods; (2) the seller had knowledge that the buyer was relying on the seller’s skill or judgment to provide appropriate goods; and (3) the buyer actually relied on the seller’s skill or judgment. See Medcom, Inc. v. C. Arthur Weaver Co., Inc., 232 Va. 80, 84-85 (1986).

Express Warranties

Claims for breach of an express warranty typically arise involving samples or models of goods, promises about goods, or descriptions of goods that form the “basis of the bargain.” Va. Code Section 8.2-213. Again, this hinges on reliance. If a seller promises to a buyer something about the goods, specifically describes a feature of the goods, or provides a sample or model of the goods, and this promise, sample, or description is the reason that the buyer purchases the goods, this will likely satisfy the basis of the bargain requirement. The Supreme Court of Virginia has held that a presumption exists in favor of the basis of the bargain, and a defendant in an express warranty case must show by clear evidence that such a promise, description, or sample did not form the basis of the bargain. See, e.g., Yates v. Pitman Mfg. Inc., 257 Va. 601 (1999).

Virginia Consumer Protection Act

The Virginia Consumer Protection Act of 1977 was created to “promote fair and ethical standards of dealings between suppliers and the consuming public.” See Virginia Code Section 59.1-197. Enforcement of the Act is overseen by the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia, which receives complaints from the public regarding dangerous products and which conducts the evaluation, investigation and referral of any enforcement or action to be taken by the state, if necessary. Complaints that are filed with the State OAG can be complicated, and may require the legal assistance of a dedicated product liability attorney. Once complaints are finalized, they can be sent to the:

Office of the Attorney General of Virginia
Consumer Protection Section
900 E. Main St.
Richmond, VA 23219

Defective Product Personal Injury Claims

In all defective product cases, your claim must prove the liability of a manufacturer, distributor, or retailer, and must also involve products that have been sold in the marketplace. For instance, products liability claims would generally not be applicable if you purchased a defective product at a garage sale and wanted to sue the person who sold you the product.  In a garage sale or other individual-to-individual sale, an injured person will generally not be successful in pursuing a legal claim against the manufacturer, or anyone in the retail chain of distribution (such as the store that sold the item to the original seller).

Product manufacturers have both legal obligations to design and construct their products with reasonable care so that they are safe for use as intended. Unfortunately, corporate manufacturers are under great pressure to keep costs down in order to increase profit margins. This can influence their motives in a variety of ways and obscure their decision-making processes, often leading them to disregard the safety of their products, which can cause a large number of injuries and wrongful deaths.

Recoverable damages can include present and future medical costs, pain and suffering, lost wages, and several other non-economic damages, depending on the facts of your case.

Call a Virginia Product Liability Lawyer

A skilled personal injury attorney will use their trial and investigative experience in product liability law to prove negligence and establish the cause of your injury. To win a defective products lawsuit, you need an experienced lawyer with enough resources to take your case to trial if it can’t be reasonably settled. If you or a family member have been injured by a defective or dangerous product, contact our Virginia law office today for a free evaluation of your case and to learn about your rightful compensation options.