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What is a defective
product for product liability purposes?
What is Meant by the term "Defective Product"?
A "defective product" for product liability purposes
is one that causes an injury or damage as a result of
some failure in the product or its labeling.
The manufacturer and others involved in the
chain of distribution of the product that caused the injury
are generally liable
for injuries that defective products cause.
The courts in Hawaii, like in many other states,
allow a personal injury claim to be pursued by a person
who is injured by or incurs loss due to a "defective product".
These claims are called "Product liability" claims-
and are also known as defective product claims. Generally if
the accident occurred in Hawaii, you will want to obtain the
services of a Hawaii products liability lawyer aka a
Hawaii product liability attorney or a Hawaii defective products lawyer
to help you with such a claim.
Products - Products Liability Claims in Hawaii
Deadlines to File Products Liability/ Dangerous Product
deadline for most dangerous product (product liability)
claims in Hawaii is two (2) years from the date of the injury
caused by the product. It should be noted, however, that there are
exceptions to this rule- for example, claims
against the City and County of Honolulu and
the various other Counties must be filed with the appropriate agency
within six (6) months of the date of the accident.
There are also some other exceptions which may
provide some additional time in certain cases, since some
dangerous products may cause injuries which do not appear
for years after exposure to the product and other dangerous
products may cause injuries which are not connected to the
product by medical science for years after the exposure.
Generally the date of the injury is not deemed to have occurred
until (1) exposure to the product, (2) injury from the product
and (3) reason to know of the connection between the exposure
and the injury- have all occurred. In some cases where a
manufacturer has deliberately misled the public as to the
safety of its product, the deadline for filing the
product liability - defective product claim
may be longer still. You must file your claims in
court prior to the expiration of such deadlines, or your
claims may be lost—regardless of their merit.
To be wise it is recommended that you contact a
product liability attorney or defective product lawyer immediately
after an accident involving a product which gives rise to injuries occurs.
Please do not hesitate to :
Accident Lawyer Hawaii now for a free evaluation of your case.
Defective Product Liability Claim Information
Generally a product liability claim arises where a defective
product has caused injury. A product is defective if it
poses an unreasonable risk of harm. A product may be defective
in design or in manufacture. The definition of a product
is pretty broad, and it can even include components of a
building such as an escalator. Leong
v. Sears Roebuck and Co.
Hawaii Supreme Court Case No. 20865 (December 14, 1998).
The absence of a warning of danger may be a defect and a
warning which is deficient to provide a consumer with basic
safety information may also be a defect. A victim does not
need to be the owner or purchaser of the product in order
to make a claim. However, if a victim is found to have been
negligent in using a defective product (ie. to have failed
to use ordinary care), it may reduce or completely defeat
any recovery available under a products liability claim.
Examples of product liability - Defective Product
Some examples of dangerous products which have been led
to successful products liability claims include:
dangerous products - like aerosol cans-
which explode or otherwise injure users and/or bystanders, an appliance
or other electrical device which gives an electrical
shock or which ignites or causes nearby
materials to catch on fire, asbestos, medical devices which
fail or which otherwise cause serious injury, medications
with serious undisclosed side effects, vehicles which are
unsafe to operate, equipment which comes apart causing injury when used,
products which cause injury due to radiation exposure, equipment
without safety shields, childrens' toys which endanger the
child, furniture which comes apart or collapses during use,
highly flammable fabrics in clothing, products which violate
OSHA or other state or federal regulations, products which
fail to comply with UL or CPSC standards and products without
warnings of hidden dangers.
Court Cases regarding product liability - Defective Product Claims
This website has an extensive commentary on Product Liability cases
both in Hawaii and on the mainland. The links below will take you to
specific topics in the law of products liability. (These links can
also be found in the "Products Liability - Hawaii Cases & Comment" pull-down
window in the right-hand menu of this site)
Products Liability - Hawaii Cases & Comment
Product Liability Law
Lessor- Strict Liability
Last Clear Chance
Assumption of Risk
Other Similar Accidents
Lay & Expert Witnesses
Videos & Pictures
Later Product Changes
Spoilation of Evidence claims in Products Liability Actions
STENDER v. VINCENT, January 31, 2000
The Hawaii Supreme Court holds that in an appropriate case-
even if a party was not at fault- a trial court can give
an adverse inference jury instruction (on the issue of liability)
as a sanction for spoilation of evidence (such as the loss or
destruction of the product [a motor vehicle] involved in the accident).
Moreover, the court finds that in this case, the trial
court was also required to exclude volumnious discovery responses submitted
too late for the opposing party to have a reasonable opportunity to
review and respond (thousands of documents submitted
just after the discovery cutoff).
Fraudulent Concealment of Evidence claims in Products Liability Actions
Living Designs v. Dupont (one of the Bentlate cases), December 5, 2005 The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a summary judgment decision rendered by a visiting judge in the District Court of Hawaii and remanded the case for trial following the recent case of Matsuura v. Du Pont, 330 F.Supp.2d 1101 (2004) (Benlate discovery and settlement fraud). The law regarding the settlement agreements which had been obtained by Dupont while Dupont was concealing evidence related to Bentlate had been the subject of 3 precedential certified questions answered by the HI Supreme Court in Matsuura v. Du Pont, 102 Hawai'i 149 (2003) - but Judge Real had not waited for those decisions before ruling against the claimants who alleged settlement fraud. The 9th Circuit Court ordered that the case on remand be reassigned from Judge Manual Real because of serious improprieties he committed as described in their opinion.
Links relating to product liability - Defective Product
Consumer Action Website
This site includes a listing of state, city and local consumer protection
offices to assist individuals in filing complaints about products
or services in the appropriate agency.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Consumer Product Safety- including a database of recalled products
by type, description, manufacturer or month and year of recall.
Forms are also provided for reporting product-related injuries
to the CPSC, as well as research reports and publications.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Select "Information for Consumers" on the right side of the page
to gain access to topics related to many drugs, cosmetics,
medical devices and other products. Forms are also provided
for reporting drug reactions, food-borne illnesses, etc.
U.S. Food Safety Inspection Service
This is a branch of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture dedicated
to information on food product recalls, federal food
recall cases, and forms for reporting food product complaints.
Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory
The University of Nebraska tests tractors manufactured in the U.S.
Test results dating back to 1999 are available for free- some
older test results and more complete documents can also be obtained for a fee.
U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
NHTSA provides information on defective cars, trucks,
other vehicles and vehicle components, including
tires, car seats, and recall items. The searchable database of consumer
complaints goes back to 1995. Information for filing a complaint
is also provided.
U.S. National Transportation Safety Board
The NTSB website has information about highway, marine, pipeline,
hazardous materials and other dangers. The site includes
accident reports, investigation information, safety
recommendations, letters and a "Most Wanted" list
of safety issues with a high priority to the NTSB.
A "one-stop" shop for U.S. governmental recall information.
Center for Auto Safety
Vehicle and vehicle component safety information-
Cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles. Recalls,
investigations, lawsuits and action alerts.
Eli Lilly Clinical Trial Registry
Summaries of Eli Lilly clinical trials and a
glossary of clinical trial terminology.
GlaxoSmithKline Clinical Trial Register
Clinical trial drug studies for Glaxo Wellcome,
SmithKlineBeecham and others.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The insurance industry supported organization tests vehicles
and posts results online. Searchable by make and model.
Website is searchable by topic.
American Society for Testing and Materials
Technical information about materials standards, products,
systems and services and worldwide standards for compliance.
American National Standards Institute
Information about materials standards, products,
systems and services- and voluntary standards for compliance
in the U.S.
Database and information on prescription drugs
and drug policy issues- as well as an auto
safety section regarding vehicles and components.
UL tests all types of electrical products for
safety and compliance with regulations.
Click "Online Tools" on the left-hand side
for specific product information. Standards
are also promulgated.
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Recent Personal Injury and Car Accident News
A plaintiff's motivation for bringing suit has recently been found to be irrelevant and prejudicial and not admissible as evidence at trial in Hawaii. See, Kobashigawa v. Silva, 129 Hawaii 313, 333-334, 300 P.3d 579, 599-600 (2013). This is only fair. On the flip side, an insurer's motivation for not paying a claim is generally inadmissible at trial because even the very existence of insurance is generally found to be inadmissible.