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The Risk of Driving on Recalled Tires

Auto tires are highly engineered and carefully constructed to provide safe performance under a wide range of conditions. Like any sophisticated product, tires can be subject to manufacturer recalls. Such recalls can come about as a manufacturer learns about problems revealed by the real-world use of their products. When drivers learn about a recall of a tire that is mounted in their cars, it’s important to take immediate steps to respond to the recall. The underlying cause of tire recalls can vary widely. Some recent recalls have included potential problems with sidewall or tread adhesives coming apart. Others have reported cases where the steel cords lying underneath the outer rubber of a tire could become exposed. In each case the threat to drivers is a sudden loss of tire pressure, loss of traction, and loss of control. Even at low speeds a catastrophic tire problem can lead to a serious crash. Nevada’s products liability law gives people who are injured by defective products the option of suing the manufacturer and marketer of the product for compensation. A manufacturer recall doesn’t free the manufacturer from liability for injuries caused by the defect to which the recall relates. If anything, a recall is intended to reduce the risk that someone will get hurt and sue. A recall can even be useful to a plaintiff in a personal injury trial, provided that the plaintiff can prove that the specific defect addressed in the recall also caused the plaintiff’s injury. Proving that a specific defect caused an accident can require the help of an expert as the specific source of a tire failure may be impossible for an untrained person to identify. Expert witnesses can charge substantial fees for their work, but the expert’s analysis and testimony can be critical to show that a defendant’s product was defective. An expert’s testimony is likely to be especially useful for plaintiffs who want to use the fact of a recall as part of their case for the defendant’s liability. If a driver knows about a tire recall but ignores it or puts off getting the problem resolved, the tire manufacturer may have an argument that the driver has assumed the risk of injury by continuing to use the defective tires. Such a defense may grow more convincing as time passes. A driver who is injured by a tire failure while on the way to the shop to have the tire promptly replaced under the manufacturer’s recall program probably won’t face this defense. But a driver who goes for six months after receiving (and reading) the notice may have a harder time recovering full compensation if something goes wrong. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury and products liability cases. If you or a loved one has been injured by an accident caused by a defective tire, please contact us today for a free attorney consultation. Call us at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Interesting Product Recalls from 2018

Consumer product recalls often offer interesting insights into the concerns manufacturers have about the risk of injury posed by their products. Recalls happen when a flaw in a product’s design or manufacture creates an unacceptable danger. Examining them reveals the sort of injuries that may give rise to products liability lawsuits. Manufacturers often voluntarily recall their products that have proven dangerous. Sometimes these recalls are triggered by lawsuits bringing risks to the manufacturers’ attention, while in other situations the problem is discovered through the manufacturer’s internal testing procedures, or through investigations by regulators. Sometimes regulators sue manufacturers to force recalls for violations of safety standards or other compliance problems. Regulators maintain lists of recalled products on their websites. Two examples are the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In 2018 there were plenty of product recalls to watch. The recalls ran the gamut:
  • Many products designed for children were recalled for choking hazards, such as this jacket with a zipper that could become detached.
  • Numerous high-profile lettuce recalls due to coli and other contaminants disrupted supplies enough to force many restaurants to stop serving lettuce altogether.
  • Major home appliances like this water heater are often recalled for problems with minor parts that can be replaced with a minor, manufacturer-provided repair.
  • An elevator model was recalled due to the alarming possibility that it could “fall unexpectedly to the bottom of the elevator shaft and abruptly stop.”
  • Nearly 1.4 million units of this printer power supply were recalled due to a fire hazard.
Manufacturers issue recalls to prevent injuries to their customers. Besides not wanting to hurt people, these companies also want to avoid expensive products liability litigation. Issuing a recall doesn’t absolve a business of its products liability obligations, but it may reduce the chance that someone will be seriously injured and sue. Consumers should take recall notices seriously. A consumer who knows about a recall and is injured while using the product anyway should still consider filing a lawsuit, but may have a more difficult legal case to make. Even in such cases, products liability law provides consumers with powerful tools for pursing compensation from manufacturers who sell defective goods. If you have been injured by a defective or improperly designed product you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible to explore your legal options. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Nevada clients in products liability cases for over 45 years. Call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

Auto Safety Recalls and Products Liability

Auto Safety Recalls and Products Liability
Safety recalls are a routine part of the automotive world. Harley-Davidson recently had to recall a large number of motorcycles to address concerns that owners may not be properly maintaining their antilock braking systems, creating a risk of dangerous failure. Vehicles with the now-notorious Takata airbag system have been recalled in vast numbers to address a design flaw that has been deemed responsible for at least 15 deaths in the United States. Owners of recalled vehicles should be mindful of how such recalls can affect their ability to sue a manufacturer.

Is the manufacturer liable for injuries caused by its defective products?

Nevada’s products liability laws give consumers robust protection against defective products by making manufacturers and marketers responsible for compensating anyone injured while using them. In a nutshell, a manufacturer of a product can be liable for injuries provided that the product was actually defective at the time it left the manufacturer’s factory and the defect injured the plaintiff while the plaintiff was using it in a foreseeable way. Products liability laws are a major reason manufacturers go to the expense of issuing recalls. Consider the Harley-Davidson brakes recall. The issue with the motorcycles’ breaks wasn’t necessarily that they were inherently defective, but rather that owners weren’t following the instructions in the owner’s manual to regularly flush and replace brake fluid. An owner who failed to follow the recommended maintenance routine could end up in an accident due to a failure in the antilock system. The fact that the owner hadn’t followed the owner’s manual to the letter might help Harley-Davidson in court. But a jury could just as likely conclude that owners not studying their manuals is a foreseeable problem. Sure, an owner might glance through the book once or twice, but it’s hardly realistic to assume that every owner will follow recommended maintenance procedures to the letter. In fact, the opposite situation, where the owner doesn’t attend to regular maintenance at all, is probably common.

Recalls and litigation

In the context of personal injury litigation, the fact that a product was recalled to address the specific fault that caused the plaintiff’s injury can be a factor in determining liability. The recall is effectively an admission by the manufacturer that there’s a problem. But a recall doesn’t mean that the plaintiff automatically prevails. The defense can still raise a number of stout arguments, including:
  • Did the plaintiff know about the recall and ignore it?
  • Did anyone else work on the vehicle, potentially creating the specific problem that caused the plaintiff’s injury?
  • Did the issue that triggered the recall really cause the injury, or was there another cause? For example, did the motorcycle’s antilock braking system fail to work and cause the crash, or was the road slippery with spilled oil, making it unsafe even with fully working brakes?
Issues like these will invariably complicate a products liability lawsuit against an auto manufacturer. Someone who is injured needs an experienced products liability attorney to help them put together the best possible case. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

Exploding Hoverboards and Products Liability

Exploding Hoverboards and Products Liability
It comes as no surprise that self-balancing scooters, also known as hoverboards, are enormously popular. They’re easier to master than a skateboard but offer a similar sense of freedom. But the technology hasn’t been without problems. Half-a-million hoverboards have been recalled due to concerns that their batteries may overheat, catch fire, and in some cases even explode. Numerous airlines do not allow passengers to carry hoverboards due to this risk. When a hoverboard causes a fire or explodes and personal injuries result, a lawsuit against the manufacturer may be warranted.

Recalls and products liability cases

When a product is recalled—either by the voluntary decision of a manufacturer or due to regulatory action by a government agency—one hopes that the recall reaches every customer and manages to capture all of the defective units before they can hurt anyone. Unfortunately, recalls don’t always work as well as a manufacturer might hope. When a recalled product causes a personal injury the fact that the product was recalled can be a useful piece of evidence for establishing a manufacturer’s liability. To serve as evidence the recall must relate to the defect that caused the injury. In the case of hoverboards, a plaintiff injured by an exploding battery could use the manufacturer recall to show that the explosion was caused by a defect inherent in the plaintiff’s specific hoverboard. But if the plaintiff was injured by a hoverboard that suddenly stopped, causing the plaintiff to fall, the battery recall would not be relevant. By itself a product recall doesn’t relieve a manufacturer from liability for its defective products. The goal of the recall is to protect consumers from injuries, but behind that goal is the company’s aim to avoid expensive litigation. Nevertheless, a defendant manufacturer will make an effort to prove that the plaintiff knew about the recall and continued to use the defective product anyway. In such cases the plaintiff may be deemed to have assumed the risk of injury.

Theories of products liability for hoverboards

A manufacturer of hoverboards could be held liable for selling defective products under a theory of negligence or strict products liability. Negligence requires the plaintiff to prove that the defendant did not take reasonable precautions to ensure that its product was safe for consumers. A failure to perform safety tests, or an unreasonably risky design choice, could be used to establish a breach of the manufacturer’s duty toward consumers. A strict products liability claim can be an easier route for plaintiffs in the right circumstances, because the source of the defect (i.e., the defendant’s negligence) is not a preliminary issue. To prevail on a strict products liability claim the plaintiff must prove, among other things, that the defect was present in the product when it left the defendant’s possession and caused the plaintiff’s injuries. In the case of hoverboards, a factory-installed battery that explodes and burns the plaintiff probably meets these criteria. But any modifications to the hoverboard, such as a “do-it-yourself” attempt to fix a problem identified in a product recall, may introduce defects that are not the manufacturer’s responsibility, forcing the plaintiff to pursue a negligence claim instead. One advantage of products liability claims in general is that they can be brought against not only the manufacturer of a defective product but also the product’s marketers. Injured plaintiffs therefore have options as to who they sue, especially if they aren’t sure at first who might be responsible for the specific defect that caused their injuries.

GGRM is a products liability law firm in Las Vegas

For more than 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area. If you have been injured by a hoverboard we are happy to discuss your legal options with you. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476, or reach us through our contact page.