4 common misunderstandings about products liability claims in Ohio

People who have suffered injuries while using defective products should avoid these damaging misconceptions about products liability claims.

Under Ohio law, people who suffer injuries while using defective and unreasonably dangerous products may have grounds to seek recompense from the manufacturer. Unfortunately, some injury victims may fail to exercise this right because they suffer from misunderstandings about state products liability laws. It's critical for people in Cleveland to understand the following common sources of confusion so that they can avoid making harmful legal decisions based on misconceptions.

1. Nature of defects

Many people believe a product is only defective if it has an unsafe design or if it was produced incorrectly due to errors in assembly, reconstruction or testing. However, the Ohio Revised Code provides that items can also be considered defective and dangerous products based on the following grounds:

  • The manufacturer failed to accurately represent the safety, nature or quality of the product.
  • The product did not include adequate instructions for safe usage.
  • The manufacturer failed to warn consumers about risks associated with using the product.

To make a products liability claim, injury victims need only establish that one of these defects existed.

2. Awareness of risk

Many people do not realize that a products liability claim may be justified even if a manufacturer did not know the product in question was dangerous. State law holds that a manufacturer may be considered liable if a product introduces a risk that the manufacturer should reasonably have anticipated. A judge may consider the unique knowledge of the manufacturer, along with the level of understanding that any manufacturer should reasonably possess, to determine whether this is the case.

3. Effects of modifications

For related reasons, a person's decision to modify a product does not necessarily preclude him or her from seeking recourse. A manufacturer might not be considered liable if a person renders a product dangerous while making a novel alteration that would have been difficult for the manufacturer to anticipate. If a manufacturer could reasonably have foreseen that consumers would make a certain alteration or modification, however, the manufacturer may still be considered liable.

4. Need for direct evidence

A final common misconception is that a products liability claim can't proceed without direct evidence that the product in question was defective. State law acknowledges that in some cases this may not be possible; as an example, defective products that cause explosions or fires may not be recoverable afterward. If a product was destroyed, or if other extenuating circumstances exist, injury victims may use circumstantial evidence to show that the product was defective.

Limiting further misunderstandings

These misconceptions about products liability claims, which are just a few of the common misunderstandings about this area of law, underscore why people who might have grounds for such claims should consider seeking legal advice. An attorney may be able to help a person better understand the relevant laws and legal precedents. An attorney may also be able to assist a person in documenting product defects and gathering other evidence needed to support a legal claim.