Thousands in the United States are injured every year by defective consumer products. Almost any consumer item – from toys and appliances to tools and auto parts – can be defective and dangerous.

Although many product-related injuries are not permanently disabling, far too often, catastrophic spinal cord injuries are the result of accidents caused by defective vehicles and vehicle parts.

Defective construction and industrial tools and equipment also cause accidents which lead to severe spinal cord injuries – and sometimes permanent disability.

Although some spinal cord injuries subside and heal in a few days or weeks, other spinal cord injuries can be catastrophic and permanently disabling.

WHAT CHALLENGES WILL A SPINAL CORD INJURY VICTIM FACE?

In the worst-case scenario, a spinal cord injury patient will require extensive and possibly life-long rehabilitation and medical treatment.

A spinal cord injury victim may also need expensive and injury-specific medical devices. He or she will face a variety of challenges.

Spinal cord injury victims who are permanently confined to wheelchairs are at a higher risk for kidney infections, blood clots, bedsores, skin infections or rashes, and blood pressure issues.

If you sustain a blow to the spinal cord, see your doctor immediately. If you’ve been injured, have your doctor evaluate your condition and determine the best course of treatment – at once.

WHAT ARE THE FACTS ABOUT SPINAL CORD INJURIES?

Across the United States, approximately 12,000 spinal cord injuries are reported every year. A quarter of a million people in the U.S. live with a permanent spinal cord injury.

Spinal cord injuries may mean a decrease or loss of sensation, a decrease or loss of the ability to move, and a decrease or complete loss of certain body organ functions.

These injuries occur when the spinal cord itself, the vertebrae, ligaments, and/or the discs of the spinal column are damaged.

A bulging disc usually indicates cervical radiculopathy, which can be the cause of ongoing chronic pain and loss of sensation in different body parts.

Spinal cord injuries happen most often in falls, sports and traffic collisions, and incidents of violence like stabbings and shootings. Still, the fact is that any damage to the vertebrae may cause a severe spinal cord injury.

WHERE CAN YOU TURN IF YOU ARE INJURED BY A DEFECTIVE PRODUCT?

Product liability law in all fifty states is intended to protect consumers who have been injured by consumer items that are dangerous or defective.

In Louisiana, if you sustain a spinal cord injury or any type of injury using a consumer product in the way it was intended to be used, you may have a product liability claim.

If you have a product liability claim, it’s imperative to consult an experienced New Orleans product liability attorney at once.

A victim who is injured by a defective consumer product in this state is entitled to compensation for all medical expenses, lost wages, and additional damages arising from the injury.

But even if you are legally entitled to compensation, you may have to prove that you’re entitled. You may have to prove that the product was defective, and you may also have to prove that the defect is the reason for your injury.

ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF PRODUCT LIABILITY?

Under Louisiana law, a consumer product may be unreasonably dangerous in one of these four ways:

1. a design defect
2. a manufacturing defect
3. a marketing defect
4. when a product does not conform to a manufacturer’s warranty

A design defect means the product itself is inherently unsafe and was designed that way.

A manufacturing defect usually happens because of a mistake during a product’s production or assembly.

Marketing “defects” are advertising and packaging mistakes: inadequate labeling or insufficient instructions and warnings.

And in Louisiana, a product may be unreasonably dangerous because it doesn’t conform to an express warranty made by the manufacturer.

In such a case, the warranty must have influenced the plaintiff/victim to use the item, and the injury must have happened because the warranty was inaccurate or false.

WHAT IS THE LEGAL STANDARD GOVERNING THESE CASES IN LOUISIANA?

The Louisiana Products Liability Act (LPLA) of 1988 governs all product liability claims in this state. Under the LPLA, a product’s manufacturer is held to the “strict liability” standard rather than the “negligence” standard.

The difference is the type of legal duty a defendant owes to a plaintiff. In a negligence case, the defendant can be held liable only if the defendant violated a duty of care owed to the plaintiff.

But under a strict liability standard, the plaintiff only needs to prove that the defendant “caused” the plaintiff’s injury; no specific fault or instance of negligence has to be proven.

WHO AND WHAT ARE GOVERNED BY PRODUCT LIABILITY LAWS?

Only products which have in fact been sold to consumers are governed by product liability laws.

Historically, the original buyer was the only person who could be compensated for any injury caused by a defective product.

Most states now allow anyone injured by a consumer item to sue for damages – provided that the item was sold commercially to someone at some point in time.

WHO CAN BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR A DEFECTIVE PRODUCT?

In legal theory, all parties in a consumer item’s distribution chain can be held accountable for a defective item.

In most product liability cases, a product’s manufacturer is found liable, but in some cases, the party who sells or installs a product may also have liability.

However, someone who resells a used product, such as an automobile, typically cannot be held accountable for any harm caused by a defect in the item.

Seek medical treatment immediately after any incident that may involve a spinal cord injury.

In Louisiana, if you have suffered a catastrophic or disabling spinal cord injury because a consumer product was defective, after you see a doctor, consult an experienced New Orleans product liability attorney at once.

HOW LONG DO INJURY VICTIMS HAVE TO BRING A LEGAL ACTION?

You must act immediately if you are injured by a defective consumer product. For product liability claims in Louisiana, you have only one year from the date of the injury to initiate legal action.

However, the “clock” on the statute of limitations doesn’t start until you know or should reasonably have known about your injury and its link to the product in question.

The people of Louisiana have little tolerance for companies that endanger the public with defective consumer items. If you’re injured by a consumer item in this state, the law is on your side.

Exercise your rights and get the legal help you need. If you are injured by a defective product, you have the right to compensation, and you have the right to justice.