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PA & NJ Consumer Injury Alert - Girl's Smartphone Catches Fire (Part 2)

As part 1 of this article discussed, there are 3 ways manufacturers may be responsible for consumers' injuries due to defective products:

  • design defect,
  • manufacturing defect, and
  • inadequate or improper instructions or warnings.

A product has a defective design if the product has a component or feature that makes it unsafe for its intended or anticipated use.  A product is also defective if it lacks any necessary feature that makes the product safe.

A product has a manufacturing defect if it was not made per its specifications or design.  For example, a flammable material was mistakenly was used to make pajamas for children.

A product has inadequate instructions or warnings if the instructions/warnings do not tell the consumers how to properly use a product or do not warn consumers of its potentially hazardous conditions.

Related: Pennsylvania Products Liability Law

Manufacturers' Liability

In this girl's situation, she may have a dangerous products lawsuit or products liability lawsuit against the phone and battery manufacturers.  It can be argued that the warnings were inadequate on both the phone and battery regarding the dangers of using a replacement battery made by a third party.  The warning on the phone should have been bigger and on the actual phone itself.  The third party battery should also have had a warning stating that it was incompatible with specific types of phones.

Can Consumers Also Be Responsible?

Sometimes, manufacturers may present a defense that they are not liable because consumers were responsible for their own injuries.  In the girl's case, the phone and battery maker can argue that the father did not follow the warning in the phone manual about using a battery made by another party, which led to the fire.  Does that mean the girl cannot recover if she was injured?  The answer is no. 

Companies that manufacture and market products are obligated to consider how their products will likely be used by reasonable, average consumers.  These companies must anticipate that consumers will not always use a particular product in the exact correct fashion. 

In this case, the father bought a battery to replace the original battery.  The manufacturer may argue that the fire occurred due to the consumer's own fault.  However, if the warnings were buried in the manual where they can be easily missed by a consumer, the girl probably still has a viable products liability case. 

Products liability law requires manufacturers to anticipate injuries and what consumers may do with their products.  A consumer replacing an old battery is something that a phone or battery manufacturer should anticipate.  Therefore, the warning should be placed where it is visible, i.e., on the phone and battery itself, and not buried in the manual.

Help After Getting Injured By Dangerous Products In PA & NJ

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