Calling this time of year ‘hectic’ is an understatement. Videos on YouTube reveal in-store stampedes and scenarios that resemble the running of the bulls in Barcelona. For a live demonstration of this madness, visit your nearest electronic or department store on Boxing Day. The desire to own a particular product is natural in our consumerist society, but the urge for owning an item first can expose buyers to hidden dangers that lurk in these products. The result? Injuries – occasionally serious ones – that can disable and leave one sidetracked.
It’s common for a personal injury lawyer to represent a client who has sustained an injury from a faulty product. Although they have the skills and experience to do so, they are often overwhelmed by this issue. There are no forecasts to predict when a product malfunctions, and buyers discover the problem after a recall – a time synonymous with the phrase, “it’s too late.” If you plan on purchasing gifts this season, it’s important to know the hidden risks that products could carry and how you can avoid these issues.
When Products Become Problems
The men and women in advertising strive to find the problem-solving ability of a product. Ad campaigns demonstrate how an item or service can eliminate the physical, emotional, or social inconvenience of a target audience. In recent years, however, popular products have turned into a problem, and those who purchased them have dealt with unfortunate consequences. Many of today’s products have electronic components and carry fire hazards.
Frightening Product Burn Injuries
You might recall some recent examples of products that went bad. Here are a few that headlined the news:
- Phone blows up in pockets –
Earlier in 2013, an 18 year-old Swiss woman suffered second and third-degree burns after her phone exploded in her pants pocket. The incident happened while she helped her boss load paint cans in her boss’s truck. Fanny Schlatter, an apprentice painter and Samsung Galaxy S III owner, described a firecracker-like sound and chemical smell before her pants caught fire. Within seconds, the flames spread to her shoulders. Fortunately, her boss pulled her into a nearby store and put out the flames. She had to take a medical leave and reported a loss of feeling in her thigh.
- E-Cigarette blogs up in man’s mouth – Although companies and consumers say electronic cigarettes are a safer alternative, the case of a 57 year-old Florida man might prove otherwise. Tom Halloway, a smoker who resorted to the electronic alternative to kick his addiction, suffered severe burns after the cigarette exploded in his mouth. The incident occurred in his home office, resulting in lost teeth and a dislodged chunk of his tongue. Experts blame the horrific accident on a faulty lithium battery – the power source for ‘e-cigarettes’ and many electronic devices alike.
These two examples demonstrate a frightening reality that many consumers are unaware of. You can find warning labels and sheets that warn about certain practices, but they can’t detail all scenarios. These situations often present product liability challenges, since the manufacturers might have little awareness of the issues until they occur. For this reason, it’s common for a personal injury lawyer and his or her firm to have clients filing lawsuits against manufacturers of faulty products.
How Can You Address the Risk?
The stories listed above are terrifying and you may wish you had never read them. It should be noted that these scenarios are extremes; accidents that are rare and often negated thanks to the rigorous testing by product manufacturers and designers. However, the presence of these stories in the news illustrates the importance to ‘wear an extra pair of eyes’ when purchasing items. But doing so leaves buyers puzzled.
Doing the Best You Can
- Resist the urge to be first! – Perhaps there’s a new game console or smartphone launch around the corner, and you’re planning to set up camp. The cold, wet weather should be the least of your concerns. First-generation hardware are usually prone to bugs and glitches that lead to malfunctions and injury. Delaying the purchase for a few weeks or months (unless urgent) might spare you from these glitches. In many cases, an additional reward of patience are drops in price.
- Follow product safety instructions – Although a manual might find new residence in a drawer or trash bin, the little white booklet can save you from a dangerous practice. Buried deep within their pages are detailed instructions and diagrams of safe and unsafe product handling and storage. Unless you plan on using a device for a science experiment, following the instructions can protect you from injury.
- Comply with recalls – If a manufacturer of a product you own announces a recall, waste no time and listen to the instructions provided. Negligence causes people to ignore the red flags. Don’t join that crowd. If a company acknowledges a product flaw, heed their warnings and follow their instructions.
When a Personal Injury Lawyer Steps In
An injury can occur despite safe handling and the absence of a recall. With the examples of the exploding Samsung and e-cigarette, there is little evidence of the victim mishandling the products. No major recalls followed. The question of whether they followed safety procedures or not may never get an answer. The victims of these accidents seem like regular people who just happened to buy dysfunctional units. If you or a friend sustained such injuries, the need to consult a personal injury lawyer turns into a necessity. Manufacturers have a responsibility to provide safe and functional products that address problems instead of creating them. A law firm will step in when manufacturers fail to meet those standards, and will fight to assist you if an injury leads to impairment.
Beware of the Shelves
The likelihood of sustaining grave injuries like the examples in this article are low. But they’re not nil. Unless you are a master designer or engineer, a defective unit that can cause a freak accident will go unnoticed, and these faults can slip the most professional eyes. Your best defenses are the safety practices outlined by the product instruction manual and restraint over your purchase habits. Buying a new gadget first doesn’t earn you a trophy. As mentioned earlier, the first batch of a product series usually carry the most faults and glitches. Therefore, self-control plays a role in your experience with products. If the unforeseeable occurs, you can rely on a personal injury lawyer who will help you obtain the needed compensation. Buyer safety requires responsibility from the company, but also you as the consumer. Even though no product can offer 100% reliability, you can keep injury risks to a minimum if you are proactive.