Product defects causing injuries to minors are frequently met with the defense that the child was not an intended user. Although that may be the case, the more pertinent issue in product liability claims of this nature is simply whether or not the child was a foreseeable user of the product. These types of claims frequently involve household products. In general, manufacturers are obliged to design these types of products recognizing that it is foreseeable that children will have contact with the product.
Negligence vs Breach of Warranty
In pursuing a claim such as this under a negligence theory, the focus is on the defendant’s lack of due care by showing that a step in the manufacturing, design, testing, packaging or marketing of the product was performed improperly. A breach of warranty claim, however, focuses on the product itself, i.e. is the product fit for the manner in which it was ordinarily to be used.
For instance, a disposable cigarette lighter is not intended for a child’s use. It is however foreseeable that a disposable cigarette lighter is going to be left around the house and will be picked up by a child. The failure to incorporate child resistant features may be evidence of negligence or of a breach of warranty. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has set certain mandatory safety standards as to disposable lighters in order to make them child-resistant.
Likewise, many other potentially hazardous items such as stoves, drain cleaners, combustible fabrics are sold as being safe, reliable household items. In fact, in the hands of a child they contain latent defects that can seriously injure that child.
Contact a Product Liability Attorney
If your child has been injured as a result of a household product, contact us, Brien Roche is your trusted Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. product liability attorney.