On behalf of Smiley & Smiley, LLP posted in Defective Products on Friday, June 5, 2015.
When products suffer from manufacturing or design defects that affect safety, certain types of consumers are particularly at risk. Unsafe children's toys are often the subject of product liability lawsuits, because children are vulnerable in ways that adult consumers are not. The same is true for the elderly, who often rely on certain products to maintain mobility and independence.
While it didn’t occur here in New York, a recent lawsuit is a cautionary tale for older New Yorkers who live alone. Last month, a Pennsylvania woman filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of her 82-year-old mother, who died after an accident in the summer of 2013. The woman's severe burns and eventual death allegedly occurred because her medical-alert pendant was defective.
According to news sources, the elderly woman fell in her driveway one summer afternoon, which was covered in hot, black asphalt. She was wearing her "Alert1" pendant and pressed it to call for help, but no help ever arrived. The woman was not found until the next day. She had been severely burned and was still trying to signal for help.
She received medical treatment that included skin grafts, but her catastrophic burn injuries eventually proved to be fatal. She died just a few weeks after the incident.
It is unclear if the problem was with the device itself or with the company tasked to respond to the emergency call. In either case, negligence certainly appears to have played a role.
All consumer products should be reasonably safe. And when a product is specifically marketed as a life-saving device, there is simply no excuse for the types of failures that occurred in this case.
Source: Courthouse News Service, "Grandma Tragedy Blamed on Alert1 Pendant," Gina Carrano, May 18, 2015
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