If a Nonprofit Produces a Product That Causes Harm, Can They Be Sued for Products Liability?

Can a Nonprofit Be Sued for an Injury While Working for It?
May 25, 2018
Are Directors or Founders Personally Liable for Negligence in a Nonprofit?
June 1, 2018

A product liability lawsuit is very specific. It occurs when a product is either defective or dangerous in some way to the point it causes harm to the people who use it. For example, anytime you see a recall from a major vehicle manufacturer in which the news release says something the effect of “So many of this vehicle make and model are being recalled in wake of the startling revelation that the certain product inside the car is the cause of death of at least 7 people,” you can safely assume the manufacturer is facing a product liability lawsuit.

If the vehicle is being recalled voluntarily and no one was injured or killed, the chance a lawsuit is being filed is slimmer. This is not just a problem in the automobile manufacturing industry. From food to toys to every other product on the market, product liability laws are strict. If you are using a product created by a nonprofit organization and it causes harm, you could be entitled to damages from a product liability lawsuit.

What is product liability?

  • Manufacturing defects
  • Design defects
  • Failure to warn
  • Product recalls
  • Breach of warranty
  • Mesothelioma
  • Asbestos

These are all common reasons people file product liability lawsuits. Each one is dangerous and has the potential to not only cause injury or harm but to also kill those who use the product. To file a product liability lawsuit, a consumer needs to sue the manufacturer of a product they are able to prove has harmed them or their family in some way.

Manufacturing Defects

A product with a manufacturing defect is dangerous whether it was manufactured by a nonprofit or a major Fortune 500 company. The premise of this problem is a mistake in the manufacturing of an object. For example, if a company manufactures a stroller for twins but accidentally uses screws that are too small, the stroller could fall apart when it’s being used and cause injury to the baby. It was a mistake made when it was being put together, which is what classifies it as a manufacturer defect.

If you want to file a product liability lawsuit citing manufacturer defect, you must be able to prove there was a defect caused in the making of this item. You must be able to prove you were injured, and you must be able to prove that this accident and injury only happened because the company that manufactured the item made a mistake. Otherwise, you would not have suffered this injury.

Defective Design

This is not like a manufacturer defect. A defective design occurs when an item is designed in a way that exhibits dangerous mistakes. For example, if a company designed a pair of sunglasses that don’t actually block the harmful UV rays from the sun, it’s a design defect. The design should have included a way to protect the eyes from those rays so that retina damage does not occur. If you want to file a lawsuit on this basis, you must be able to prove there was an injury and that the injury was directly caused because of a design flaw.

Failure to Warn

Have you ever looked at the back of a package of something you purchased and wondered why such silly warnings are included? For example, Tide Pods are being consumed by teenagers across the country right now, and it’s dangerous. Common sense says this is a terrible idea as Tide Pods are likely made of chemicals no human should ingest. You might wonder why the package reads “Warning: Do not eat,” but it’s because some people just don’t know.

If you decide you want to eat a Tide Pod and there is no warning on the back that it could kill you because of the many dangerous chemicals inside, it’s failure to warn. If the package tells you not to eat it and you eat it anyway, it’s your own fault if you suffer injuries.

Other Instances

The rest of these situations are easily defined. For example, if you realize that you bought a product made with asbestos, you could sue the company for using the ingredient knowing that it’s banned and not safe at all for humans to work with. If a product recall occurs, you know there is an item that could hurt you and you could sue. If the company who makes the item does not honor their own warranty and something happens to you, it could fall into a products liability category.

What You Should Do

There is not a right or wrong answer here. If you suffered injuries because you used a product that harmed you, it doesn’t matter where you got it or how it was made. You are injured because of a product design. If the product was made by a nonprofit organization, you can still sue the company under the realm of product liability. Anyone who takes it upon themselves to create a product and sell it must abide by the laws regarding manufacturing and design. If they fail to do so, they can be sued.

What you’ll get from a nonprofit depends on the success of the company as well as their own insurance company. If their product is properly insured, you can sue the company and deal with their insurance company. The insurance company might try to offer you a deal or a settlement to keep you happy rather than take the case to court, but the decision is ultimately yours.

Call an Attorney

If you are injured or harmed at all by a product designed by a nonprofit, call an attorney for help. You do have rights, and your attorney can help you figure out what those rights are. It’s easier to provide good advice when you know what the specifics of the situation are, and it’s easier for your attorney to move forward with a case when he or she knows what happened, who manufactured or designed the product, and which part of the numerous product liability laws this lawsuit might fall under.

Keep evidence, take pictures, and see a doctor if you are injured. You want to act quickly to be sure you are able to adequately use your evidence. Calling an attorney after you see a doctor is a wise decision, even if you only discuss the case with the attorney and decide you don’t want to move forward. A legal expert is always helpful in a legal situation, and this is no exception.

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