Articles Posted in Defective Products

After suffering from an Indiana workplace accident, you may be unsure of your next steps. You could pursue a workers’ compensation claim, but that might not fully compensate for your injuries. In particular, workers’ compensation may not provide relief for the emotional harm you have suffered as a result of the accident. At the same time, there are limits to bringing a negligence lawsuit after a workplace accident. Most notably, you may not be able to directly sue your employer. However, there are a few other ways you can still recover damages after an Indiana workplace accident.

As a recent article sadly reported, a construction worker was killed in a workplace accident in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. At the time of the accident, the victim was working to remove a stretch of transit tracks for a demolition and land repurposing company. Then, a section of the track suddenly fell, which killed the construction worker. The cause of the track collapse remains under investigation.

Can You Sue Your Employer for A Workplace Accident?

If you suffered injuries while performing a job for your employer, your first course of action will likely be pursuing workers’ compensation rather than suing the employer. Indiana law requires most employers to provide workers’ compensation. Often, an employee cannot sue their employer for on-the-job injuries if they receive workers’ compensation. On the other hand, if fault for the workplace accident lies with a third party rather than the employer, an employee may be able to sue the third party for their injuries. Examples of a liable third party include manufacturers of construction equipment that injured the employee or an individual with no tie to the employer who acted negligently.

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Food poisoning and food-related illnesses make their way through the news cycle every year. In some cases, the spread is limited to a few select products and corporations, grocery stores, and restaurants can take swift steps to remove the tainted products. However, some food poisoning and tainted food products result in serious and potentially long-term illnesses, giving rise to an Indiana products liability lawsuit.

Food poisoning and tainted food discoveries often come after several people become sick from consuming the product. However, in some situations, products come under scrutiny when the public becomes concerned about ingredients and safety standards. One such cause for concern revolves around heavy metals found in various baby food items and juices. Although, heavy metals are naturally found in soil, the amount found in many baby food products is concerning to many.

Heavy metals in baby food products is not a novel issue, as it has been the topic of various research studies over the past decade. However, following a 2019 study and a congressional report released in early February, many parents are reevaluating how they feed their children. Several popular baby food companies participated in the study; however, many declined to cooperate.

Recently, a national outlet published a report that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued recalls for bagged salads. The bagged salad mixes contained a microscopic parasite linked to an outbreak of intestinal illnesses in many Midwestern states. As a precaution to consumers, some retailers voluntarily recalled the mixes in Indiana. The agencies are also advising Indiana consumers to throw out their salad mixes if they are unsure of its origins. Individuals who suffer adverse effects after eating potentially harmful food items should contact an Indiana product liability attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.

Many consumers began getting sick from May to mid-June. The affected consumers ranged from 16 years old to 92 years old. The CDC explained that the microscopic parasite often contaminates water and food resulting in Cyclosporiasis. This intestinal infection typically causes diarrhea, cramping, and fatigue. Although these conditions may be treated with antibiotics, medically fragile individuals may suffer severe and long-term consequences, including hospitalization and death.

Microbiologists explain that they are not positive what causes these outbreaks, but it is likely related to the quality of the water used to farm the produce. In many cases, the water is contaminated with fecal matter. However, regardless of what caused the parasite, there is a clear indication that there was a breakdown in quality-control. In these situations, Indiana injury victims should hold all liable parties responsible for their injuries and resulting damages.

The Indiana Product Liability Act (IPLA) provides injury victims with an avenue for relief against a manufacturer or seller of a defective product, for the physical harm caused by the product. The IPLA defines consumers as a buyer or any individual who uses the product or any reasonable bystander who suffer injuries because of the product. A manufacturer is an individual or entity that creates, assembles, constructs, or otherwise prepares a product or component before the sale to a consumer. The law requires that plaintiffs abide by the strict statute of limitations and repose to avoid dismissal.

Under Indiana law, plaintiffs must commence their product liability actions within two years after the cause of action accrues or within ten years after the delivery of the device to the original user. However, if the claim accrues at least eight years after but less than ten years of delivery, the action may be filed within two years after the claim accrues. There is a specific exception for asbestos-related claims, and plaintiffs will often try and carve out additional exceptions based on case law. However, these exceptions undergo strict analysis and require a thorough understanding of Indiana product liability laws.

For example, recently, the Indiana Supreme Court issued an opinion addressing a plaintiff’s request to apply an additional exception to the statute of repose. In that case, the plaintiff suffered injuries after using a defective machine at work. His employer purchased the product in 2003, which was over ten years before the plaintiff filed his lawsuit. The plaintiff and defendant agreed that the claim was time-barred, but the plaintiff argued that his claim falls within an exception. He cited previous court discussions that addressed instances when a product undergoes a transformation, in effect, creating a new product. The plaintiff contended that courts should determine the statute of limitations from the time a product undergoes a repair, refurbishment, or reconstruction. He reasoned that this transformation would render the product “new,” and as such, the clock should begin running from that time.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently issued an opinion stemming from a tragic Indiana motorcycle accident. According to the court’s opinion, a husband and wife were traveling from Indiana to Salt Lake City, Utah when something punctured their motorcycle tire, causing the tire to deflate rapidly. The husband lost control of the motorcycle, and he crashed into a concrete barrier. The impact caused his wife to fly off the motorcycle as the bike dragged her husband on the highway. Although they were both wearing helmets, they each sustained traumatic brain injuries.

The couple received recall notices for their helmets a few months after the accident. The company that distributed the helmets notified consumers that helmets did not conform to the Department of Transportation standards. The company also warned that the helmet might not protect users in the event of a collision. The couple purchased their helmets two years before the recall from two different sellers. In response to the recall notice, the couple filed a products liability lawsuit against several parties, including the manufacturer of the helmets and the companies that sold the helmets. In their suit against the helmet company, the couple alleged that the accident resulted from a design and manufacturing defect. They also alleged that the company did not comply with federal safety standards and participated in negligent recall practices.

To establish liability in Indiana products liability lawsuits, plaintiffs must be able to prove that a party that manufactures, distributes, or sells a product knew or should have known that a product was unreasonably dangerous, either because of a design or manufacturer defect. The Indiana Products Liability Act requires that plaintiffs produce expert testimony in regards to causation. If a plaintiff cannot establish this crucial element of their claim, the court will grant summary judgment in favor of the defendant.

Recently, a state appellate court issued a decision in an Indiana product liability case discussing whether the manufacturer of a component part can be held liable for its failure to install what the plaintiff alleges is a necessary safety feature. The court concluded that this case was somewhat unique in that the component part at issue had only one final use, and because of that, the question of whether a duty existed should be resolved by a jury.

According to the court’s opinion, a semi-truck was backing up on a job site when it ran over a construction foreman. The foreman died as a result of his injuries. The foreman’s wife (“the plaintiff”) filed a wrongful death case against the defendant, under a theory of product liability.

The defendant manufactured the “glider kit,” which consists of the frame and body of the truck. To turn the glider kit into a completed semi-truck, the purchaser must install an engine, transmission, and exhaust system. The glider kit did not come with any back-up cameras or alarms. However, a purchaser could opt to add those items onto the kit at an additional cost.

A man from Indiana is one of a half a dozen people alleging a food product company sold unreasonably dangerous cooking spray that exploded while in use, causing severe burns.

Local news reports indicate the Indianapolis plaintiff, a medical student, sustained burns back in March, 2019,  while cooking with his girlfriend. He spent months in the hospital and had to undergo numerous skin grafts and other surgeries after suffering burns on most of his upper body. He and other plaintiffs are now incensed the company refuses to recall the product and insists the cooking spray is safe.

Plaintiff was cooking when a can of the common spray, sitting near the stove top, reportedly exploded, erupting into a fire. As his girlfriend noted, “He’s a full-time med student. He’s educated. He’s very smart – and he had no idea.”

In a workplace injury lawsuit relevant to future Indiana work injury claims, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that a company responsible for equipment maintenance could not be held liable for a forklift injury resulting from failure to warn an employer about the risk of not installing an alarm. There was no question the forklift wasn’t designed, manufactured or shipped to the original purchaser with a backup alarm. Further, as of the date of the accident (in mid-2013) there was no regulation that required the equipment to have one. Defendant did service the forklift several times prior to an accident (during which the heavy machinery rolled over a worker’s foot). The most recent had been just a few months prior. The technician couldn’t recall if the forklift had a backup alarm, but if it did, he didn’t make note of it in his report.

After the accident, the injured worker’s employer asked another company to install a backup alarm. That company’s technician affirmed there was no alarm already on it.

Although workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy a worker has for an Indiana work injury (same goes for workers in Illinois, where this accident occurred), what is allowed is third-party liability. As Munster work injury attorneys can explain, this means that if a third-party – someone other than an employer or co-worker – was responsible for causing an injury that occurred in the course and scope of  employment, that party can be held liable for negligence. Workers aren’t compensated twice, but a third-party negligence claim may entitle injured workers to collect more than they would otherwise be able to collect from workers’ compensation (which is generally limited to a portion of lost wages and medical bills).

An Indiana woman suing the manufacturer of a medical device for product liability lost when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled in favor of the device manufacturer because the plaintiff failed to produce expert witness testimony on causation, as required by Indiana law in such claims. 

It was a disappointing outcome, but as Indiana product liability attorneys, we recognize it’s important for attorneys  – and plaintiffs too – to understand what went wrong so that we can formulate a smart strategy moving forward in similar cases. Appellate court opinions on the state and federal levels are especially important to consider because they help us gauge how courts are likely to interpret other cases in the future.

Here, according to court records, the plaintiff’s physician implanted an intrauterine device called ParaGard, made by a company named Teva. About five years after the device was implanted, the plaintiff decided she was dissatisfied with it and asked her physician to remove it. The physician did so by grasping the strings of the IUD with a ring forceps and pulling down. However, in so doing, only a piece of the device was removed. Another piece broke off either prior to or during removal, and it became lodged in her uterus. The only way to remove it, her doctors opine, is for her to undergo a hysterectomy.

An Indiana man who lost an eye and suffered a number of other serious facial injuries when a power tool he was using malfunctioned and struck him in the face may proceed with his Indiana product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of that tool, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. In so doing, the appellate court reversed the trial judge’s earlier grant of summary judgment to the defense. 

The plaintiff’s original claim to the trial court was that the product’s faulty instructions, inadequate warnings, and lack of a safety guard (or any explicit information regarding a proper safety guard) made the air-compressor tool unreasonably dangerous as manufactured. The defense countered that no reasonable jury could find the plaintiff less than 51 percent at fault for his injuries (the standard under Indiana’s comparative fault law), given each of the three defenses presented:  misuse, alteration, and incurred risk. Specifically, the defense argued the plaintiff misused the product and altered the product, and there was an incurred risk for the use of the product.

The trial court ruled the plaintiff misused the grinder as a matter of law because he did not wear safety glasses. In the plaintiff’s appeal, he noted that the power tool was defective because it was sold without a safety guard, and the company gave no instruction on how to obtain or use such a guard, which was not and is not available for purchase by the company. Furthermore, the plaintiff argued the instructions didn’t warn users of the possible danger of using the tool with a cut-off wheel absent a safety guard.

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