HAVE YOU BEEN INJURED BY A PRODUCT? A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF YOUR RIGHTS UNDER MARYLAND PRODUCTS LIABILTY LAW
Products are meant to be used as described and should be reasonably safe when used in their ordinary manner. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. When a product rolls off the assembly line, it may be defective in the way it was manufactured, designed, or labeled, causing injuries to an innocent user. Maryland law, like most other jurisdictions, has developed a standard legal regime in dealing with injuries caused by defective products.
In Maryland, a manufacturer and a distributor of a defective product can be held financially responsible in a civil action under a number of legal theories. Both the manufacturer and the distributor of a defective product can be held responsible for common law negligence, in a cause of action alleging that the manufacturer and/or distributor failed to exercise ordinary care which resulted in a defective and unreasonably dangerous product being placed in the hands of an innocent consumer; they can be held responsible under the warranty theory of liability by alleging that the product was not fit for use for the ordinary purpose for which it was intended; and they can also be held liable under the strict liability theory by alleging that the product, when used by the consumer, was defective and unreasonably dangerous to the consumer and that the product reached the consumer in its original condition, i.e. that it was not modified in any way.
The basic idea behind products liability laws is that between consumers and manufacturers/distributors, the latter should bear the responsibility for injuries caused by its defective products – even in the absence of any negligence on their part. Thus ordinarily, a consumer injured by a product may recover for his injuries by proving only that the product was defective and unreasonably dangerous as used under the strict products liability regime. Additionally, an injured consumer may also seek recovery under common law negligence and express and implied warranty causes of action.
While consumers injured by defective products have potent rights, this areas of law is too complex for an ordinary consumer to navigate him/herself. Because most manufacturers and distributors are national or even international business entities, issues such as jurisdiction and notice may prove to be decisive in the beginning of a legal action. Therefore, it is fundamentally important that you speak with an experienced attorney as soon after the injury as possible. There are important deadlines (statutes of limitations) which can bar an otherwise valid claim if you do not pursue your rights within those deadlines. An experienced attorney may also be instrumental in ensuring that you maintain complete and accurate records of your injury and medical costs, and in achieving the best possible outcome for you at the settlement table or the courthouse.