Product Liability Laws: Internet Challenges and the Dangers Lurking Behind Them

August 13, 2019 @ 9:57 am

internet fads and product liability laws blog

Internet challenges seem like harmless, good-natured fun, but they’re no less hazardous than any other idle activities that young people might engage in. When someone gets hurt by jumping on the latest bandwagon, it raises interesting product liability law questions.

Should you file a lawsuit if someone you love has been harmed while participating in one of these challenges? Do you even have the legal footing to form a solid case? Let’s dive into the details of product liability, and see where your situation lies.

The Inherently Risky Nature of Internet Challenges

Internet challenges are unique among fads. Although popular trends have long existed — and been a cause for concern among more responsible members of society — this is one case where technology has radically transformed the playing field.

Online challenges spread rapidly, so parents might not even discover their kids’ behavior until the damage is already done. Even more troublesome, these challenges tend to revolve around using commercially available products in ways that their manufacturers clearly didn’t intend, which often heightens the risk of serious harm.

Product Liability Law and the Internet of Things

If these victims use products in ways that their manufacturers didn’t mean for them to be used, then how can they seek justice? After all, aren’t they responsible for their own actions?

This is where the waters can get murky. Imagine that a new fad involved opening up a piece of consumer electronics and doing something less than intelligent with it. If the manufacturer produced a device that was easy to open with basic tools or lacked a power cutoff switch, then a court might deem it partially liable for the shock injuries that a person sustained while sticking their fingers inside.

In some cases, the viral speed with which online fads travel might open up more grounds for lawsuits. For instance, if a manufacturer neglected to upgrade a device or publish updated warnings even after it became widely known that people were misusing it, then the court might be inclined to see things from a parent’s point of view — as long as that parent could prove their allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.

Safety Warnings and Legal Cases

One way that manufacturers try to protect their interests is by placing product warnings on their devices. Whether they take the form of bold advisements against swallowing laundry detergent or simple instructions on how to use powered equipment, such notices come in many varieties that may complicate things for victims.

Furthermore, simply slapping a label on a product doesn’t absolve a company of wrongdoing if a consumer uses the item in an injurious way. On the other hand, the fact that a company changed a warning after hearing about a dangerous trend doesn’t automatically mean the court will find them guilty either. In some cases, courts even allow manufacturers to deny liability by proving that they couldn’t have reasonably foreseen that someone would misuse their products in a particular manner.

Learning Where You Stand

There are various ways to approach these situations to potentially recover damages. For example, a parent might sue a manufacturer to win compensation for their child’s medical bills. Or, they could join an existing class-action lawsuit to increase their odds of winning a joint payout along with other families that have been wronged.

But of course, It’s not always clear who’s going to win a product liability battle — and social fads don’t make things any easier to predict. Working with a lawyer to build a strong case is essential for victims who want to bounce back after they were harmed by participating in what should have been inoffensive amusement.

If you or someone you know is dealing with the aftermath of a dangerous product and feel that you are owed compensation, contact our team of lawyers at Morrow, Morrow, Ryan, Bassett & Haik today.