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Burn Injury Lawyer: Defective Products

Burn Injury Lawyer: Defective Products

In this article, we’ll break down the following:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 359,000 people sustain severe burn injuries requiring medical attention annually. Many of these reported cases result from defective products, particularly electronic devices with lithium-ion batteries that explode, causing serious injuries and subsequent exorbitant medical bills.

If you or a loved one is a burn injury victim due to a defective product, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you recover the compensation you’re rightfully entitled to. Here’s everything you need to know about suing for burn injuries.

Defective Products and Burn Injuries

As a consumer, the expectation when you purchase a product is that it is safe. You expect it to have gone through the required manufacturing and testing standards to guarantee the end user’s safety and well-being. You expect it to come with adequate warnings and detailed instructions about its use if the product presents inherent risks.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. A product design flaw or a manufacturing process defect can cause serious and, sometimes, life-threatening injuries to the user.

Most reported burn injury accidents stemming from defective products often result from issues with lithium-ion batteries. However, there are several cases where victims have been injured by exploding electronics whose components malfunction.

Whatever the case, if your burn injuries result from a defective product, the product designer, manufacturer, or seller must be held accountable for your injuries. Identifying the liable party in your suit will help you build a claim and recover the appropriate compensation for your burn injuries and damages.

Types of Defective Products That Can Cause Burn Injuries

Consumer products generally have strict design, manufacturing, testing, and warning laws surrounding flammability. Unfortunately, some companies may circumvent these regulations and, in the process, put consumers at risk.

Some common types of defective products that can cause burn injuries include, but are not limited to:

  • Battery-powered devices
  • Camping equipment
  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Electric blankets
  • Flammable clothing
  • Heaters
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Mattresses
  • Vaping devices and e-cigarettes

Common Causes of Burn Injuries From Defective Products

Some burn injury incidents are due to the victim’s own negligence. More often than not, however, they result from other people’s negligence and defective products.

Here are some common causes of burn injuries resulting from defective products:

  • Chemical exposure
  • Defective lithium-ion batteries
  • Defective fans and cooling systems
  • Defective motor parts and components
  • Malfunctioning or improperly installed heating components
  • Overheating
  • Faulty extension cords

Liability in Burn Injury Cases Caused by Defective Products

When you suffer harm from a defective product, you must establish who is responsible for your injuries. In burn injury cases, the liable parties include the designer, manufacturer, seller, or anyone else in the product’s distribution chain.

You can recover compensation if:

  • The product has a defective design. For instance, a smartphone that overheats while charging could be due to defective design. The excess heat could result in a battery explosion.
  • The product has a manufacturing defect. For instance, if the manufacturer uses inferior components or materials, the product could explode, causing severe burn injuries.
  • The manufacturer or seller failed to provide the user with adequate instructions or warnings on the safe operation of the product.

That said, every case is unique, and other parties outside the distribution chain might also be liable for your injuries. Ensure you consult a burn injury lawyer to help identify all the liable parties in your injury claim.

Examples of Burn Injury Cases Due to Defective Products

Exploding Lithium-Ion Batteries

  • A Florida resident sustained serious burn injuries when the lithium-ion batteries in his vaping device malfunctioned. The batteries, manufactured by a major consumer electronics conglomerate, exploded and caught fire in his pants pockets, causing severe burns to his leg.

Faulty Electrical Products

  • A man’s pants caught fire while using a space heater. The victim suffered serious burn injuries from what he alleged to be a defectively-designed heater and inadequate safety warnings from the product manufacturer and seller.

Defective Gas Appliances

  • A man sustained severe burn injuries to his face and eyes after a gas-powered generator exploded. The accident happened when the victim removed the generator’s gas cap as it was running to check how much fuel it had left. In the process, the gasoline fumes ignited, creating a flash explosion. The victim attributed his injuries to the generator manufacturer’s negligence, failure to warn, and faulty design and manufacturing process.

Malfunctioning Vehicles and Machinery

  • A vehicle caught fire while being driven on a freeway. The car’s battery reportedly burst into flames while the vehicle was in motion, requiring thousands of gallons of water from the local fire department to put it out. The fire was attributed to a malfunctioning car battery.

Unsafe Consumer Products

  • Several victims sustained severe burn injuries when pressure cookers marketed as “safe and trusted” exploded during normal use, splashing blistering hot food on them and damaging property. The exploding pressure cookers were due to design, manufacturing, and failure-to-warn defects.

Florida Case Law on Defective Product Claims

A defective product claim is a lawsuit lodged by an injured consumer against the manufacturer, designer, or distributor of a product that caused harm when used as intended. Florida residents can pursue such claims under three legal premises:

Design Defect

A design defect is a flaw or error in a product’s blueprint that renders it inherently dangerous for its intended purpose. Design defects affect entire product batches rather than individual units. An example of this flaw is a car battery model that spontaneously combusts whenever the vehicle reaches 100 mph.

Manufacturing Defect

A manufacturing defect refers to a flaw in a product resulting from an error or contamination in a product’s production phase. These errors typically affect specific portions of the product inventory as opposed to the entire batch.

An example of a manufacturing defect is a household cleaner with a higher-than-normal concentration of a corrosive chemical that causes second-degree burns when it comes into contact with the skin.

Marketing Defect

A marketing defect, or failure to warn, occurs when a manufacturer fails to provide adequate warnings and instructions to end users on using the product safely to avoid getting injured. For instance, the absence of a warning label on a space heater instructing users to keep it a safe distance away from upholstered furniture, mattresses, and bedding would qualify as a marketing defect.

With that in mind, there are two ways to prove cause in a burn injury claim resulting from a defective product. On the one hand, you can file a strict liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, or distributor of the defective product. If you choose to go this route, you would have to demonstrate that:

  1. A relationship exists between the designer, manufacturer, or distributor and the product in question;
  2. The product was defective;
  3. The defect rendered the product unnecessarily dangerous for its intended use; and
  4. The product was the proximate cause of your injuries.

In a strict liability claim, the victim does not have to prove negligence on the defendant’s part. The burden rests on the defendant to show that their product was safe and manufactured according to the applicable federal and regulatory standards when it went on the market.

These standards include those defined in the Consumer Protection Safety Act and other governmental bodies, including, but not limited to, OSHA, the CPSC, EPA, etc.

The second avenue a burn injury victim can use to prove cause is filing a negligence claim against the at-fault party. This process would involve showing that the designer, manufacturer, distributor, or any other third party had a duty of care towards you and that they breached that duty, thereby causing your injuries.

Florida Case Law Related to Burn Injuries Caused by Defective Products

GMC v. McGee, 837 So. 2d 1010 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2002)

Issue: Plaintiffs Robert McGee, Connie McGee, and their daughter Kelly McGee, who was 11 at the time of the incident, brought a product liability action against car maker GMC. A 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser station wagon they were driving at the time caught fire, causing them to sustain serious burn injuries.

The incident happened when another driver’s trailer disconnected from their pick-up truck and collided with the plaintiff’s vehicle. The trailer tongue pierced the gas tank in the station wagon, causing fuel to leak out, ignite, and explode.

Robert, Connie, and Kelly made it out of the G.M.C-manufactured car, having sustained severe burn injuries. The fourth occupant of the car, Shane McGee, who was Robert and Connie’s 13-year-old son, had trouble escaping due to his seat belt restraint. He suffered full-thickness burns on 98% of his body and succumbed to his injuries shortly after.

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs asserted that the station wagon’s design was defective due to the fuel tank’s poor quality construction, lack of a shield, and its location on the vehicle. This defect made the tank susceptible to direct impacts, fuel leaks, and fire.

Result: The jury found in favor of the plaintiffs awarding them significant compensatory damages to the tune of millions of dollars. However, they did not award punitive damages.

The McGees appealed the verdict asserting that they were entitled to a new trial to recover punitive damages due to violations committed by the defendant’s attorneys during discovery.

However, the District Court of Appeal of Florida affirmed the previous ruling, stating that the newly uncovered evidence would not have changed the jury’s decision not to award punitive damages.

Sackrin & Tolchinsky: Background

Alan Sackrin and Larry Tolchinsky have extensive legal experience in civil litigation, appeals, arbitration, and mediation. The firm’s attorneys specialize in several practice areas, including:

  • Catastrophic car accidents
  • Wrongful Death
  • Slip and Falls
  • Insurance claims/denials
  • All other serious personal injury claims

Our mission as a firm is to offer our clients world-class representation for a fast and fair resolution to legal issues. We have employed the latest technology to reduce the cost of service delivery and provide personalized expert help for the best possible outcome in your claim.

Sackrin & Tolchinsky’s Experience as Injury Claims Lawyers

Alan Sackrin has over four decades of legal experience representing burn victims injured by defective products. He has taken on complex personal injury cases, including those considered hard to win, and successfully recovered significant settlements for victims.

One notable case Alan handled was a $400,000 recovery for a low-impact motor vehicle collision victim. The accident aggravated a congenital head condition the plaintiff had before the crash.

Get Legal Help

If you or a loved one has suffered burn injuries from what you believe to be a defective product, speak to a product liability attorney as soon as possible while the events are still fresh in your mind.

Sackrin & Tolchinsky attorneys have extensive experience representing burn victims of defective products. They have the knowledge and expertise to help you prove your case and recover the settlement you deserve.

Get in touch with us for a free case evaluation to discuss the legal avenues available to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I suffer a burn injury from a defective product?

If you have been burned by what you believe to be a defective product, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Seek urgent medical care for your burn injuries.
  2. Preserve the harmful product and document everything, including the proof of purchase and your medical records.
  3. Speak to an experienced burn injury lawyer as soon as possible.
  4. Identify what type of defective product claim you have. Were your burn injuries the result of a design, manufacturing, or marketing defect?
  5. Identify all the liable parties in your claim.
  6. Calculate your damages with the help of your injury attorney.

How long do I have to file a claim for a burn injury caused by a defective product in Florida?

The statute of limitation for product liability cases based on strict liability is 4 years. For product liability cases based on negligence, please call us to discuss your case, as a recent statutory change in the law has caused uncertainty to the limitations period.

What kind of compensation can I receive for a burn injury caused by a defective product?

Depending on the specific circumstances surrounding your accident, you may be able to sue for punitive, economic, and non-economic damages for your burn injuries. You can recover compensation for the following:

  • Medical expenses you have incurred so far
  • Projected costs of any future medical care you might require
  • Cost of residential or in-home care
  • Therapy and rehabilitation
  • Lost wages if you had to miss work due to your injuries or if your ability to work in the future has been impaired
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental and emotional distress
  • Wrongful death

How can you prove fault in a Florida burn injury claim?

If you sustain injuries from a thermal, electrical, or chemical burn from a defective product, you can pursue a strict liability action against the designer, manufacturer, or distributor. A victim will have to prove that:

  1. A relationship exists between the designer, manufacturer, or distributor and the product in question;
  2. The product was defective;
  3. The defect rendered the product unnecessarily dangerous for its intended use; and
  4. The product was the proximate cause of your injuries.

Alternatively, you can pursue a negligence claim against the at-fault party. This avenue of legal recourse involves proving that the designer, manufacturer, distributor, or any other third party had a duty of care towards you and that they breached that duty, thereby causing your injuries.

How much is my burn injury claim worth?

Settlement amounts for burn injuries vary widely depending on several factors, including:

  • The extent of the victim’s injuries
  • The liable or negligent party’s intent
  • Existing damages caps in the state for specific injuries
  • The liable party’s ability to pay out the awarded damages

Based on these factors, settlement amounts can be anywhere from a few thousand dollars to millions of dolllars.

Do You Have A Question? Call Alan Sackrin Today For a Free Case Evaluation

As a Board-Certified Civil Trial Expert for over 40+ years, Alan Sackrin has extensive experience with product liability lawsuits. He offers a free initial consultation (over the phone or in-person) to answer your questions. When you’re ready to speak with an expert civil trial lawyer about your product liability case, call Alan at 945-458-8655.