Last year saw a record number of large product liability lawsuit verdicts. Ten of 50 of the largest product defect or dangerous product verdicts occurred last year. There were 15 verdicts of $25 million or more, according to Bloomberg online. As a comparison, there were only seven such verdicts in 2009.
While the cause of the increase in large verdicts for the victims of defective product injuries is disputed, it is known that the visibility of major corporate blunders, such as the Toyota recalls and sudden acceleration defects, the British Petroleum oil spill and the bank foreclosure debacle likely contributed to increased awareness of corporate liability. From these highly publicized events, more Americans are angry at corporations and are more willing to hold a company or a manufacturer responsible for the harm caused by a defective product.
Another possible reason for the increase in plaintiff verdicts and defective product suits is the recession. One lingering effect of the "Great Recession" is that many Americans are unwilling to trust large businesses, especially corporations.
Even after a company apologizes for a product defect, such as Toyota did, victims and victims' families may still want to hold the company responsible for the injuries and pain and suffering. This can be an important step to increase exposure of the dangerous product and, in turn, prevent future harm. Victims of dangerous products may also be able to receive compensation for their loss.
Automobile defects, such as seat belt defects or brake defects, are usually the most common type of product defect but there are many other types. There may be a defect in the design or in the manufacture of a product that leads to a power tool explosion or a product overheating, causing serious burn and laceration injuries.
Children's toys have also been the subject of greater scrutiny as they have been found to contain harmful chemicals. Toys and cribs may also be poorly manufactured, leading to serious, even fatal, choking or suffocation injuries.
Source: Bloomberg (online), "Defective-Product Verdicts Against Companies Increase," Margaret Fisk, 1/18/11