A 30-year old man repairing a cement truck in Queens was critically injured Saturday when a jack failed and the huge vehicle fell on top of him. According to a report in the New York Post, the man was repairing the axle of the cement truck when the jack failed causing the huge vehicle to crush his torso and legs.

An incident like this often implicates multiple areas of law in New York, including Workers CompensationPremises liabilitygeneral negligence and product liability. A victim may be able to recover from a third-party if it can be proven in a New York Court that a third-party is, partly or completely, responsible for the incident by virtue of their culpable conduct.

For example, the victim in the above-referenced article, may be able to recover if it can be proven that the jack that failed was a defective product.

The majority of the claims associated with product liability are negligence, beach of warranty and strict liability. The varying types of product liability claims require differing elements to be proven in each case. Depending on the nature of the defect, product liability cases can rely on a number of claims:

  • Defective Design: This type of claim insinuates that while product functioned in the manner that the company claimed, the design of the product itself was problematic and defective. This claim implies a level of negligence on behalf of the company, as a reasonable manufacturer would have known that the product’s design was defective and thus, would have had knowledge of the product’s potential to cause injury or even death in extreme cases, to the user.

In the case that a hazard - the presence of a condition that may cause injury or death to the consumer - is identified, the design engineer must follow an accepted design protocol in order to minimize the hazardous condition associated with the product.

  • Manufacturing Defect: In such a case, it is claimed the defect of the product was a result of a failure to manufacture it properly which ultimately resulted in the creation of a hazardous condition that caused injury or death to the consumer.
  • Manufacturers’ Failure to Provide Proper Warning: In the case that a manufacturer of a product is aware and can foresee that a product is likely to be dangerous if used in a certain manner, the manufacturer is responsible for providing the user with an adequate warning. Failure to provide a proper warning is grounds for establishing liability against the manufacturer.