Who Was at Fault in Baby’s Washing Machine Mishap?

Parents know that young children require constant supervision. When looking after a small child, the diversion of your attention for even a few seconds can sometimes end in disaster. This was the case for one parent in New Hampshire.

While doing laundry, the parent of a 5-month-old baby changed the newborn on a table next to the washing machine. During a distraction that lasted only a few seconds, the baby managed to crawl toward the washer and fall into the scalding hot water within the machine. Although this story is unfortunate, it provides an interesting perspective on the topic of products liability. Specifically, what constitutes a products liability claim? Was the design of the washing machine at fault in this scenario?

A closer look at this situation may reveal whether a civil lawsuit could be filed and whether there is a chance for compensation on the baby’s behalf.

The chance for recovery in products liability cases is based on the idea that manufacturers have a duty to provide products to consumers that are not defective. A product can be considered “defective” in a number of ways, including its design, manufacture, or through its marketing or labeling.

In this case, it is worth noting that the machine was functioning as intended. That is, the machine was filling with hot water while the top was open. This is how the machine was designed to work.

However, products liability claims can also arise when the manufacturer of a product fails to warn the consumer about the hidden dangers of the product or fails to provide adequate instructions on how to use the product.

Thousands of consumers are injured every year because of defective products and most of these injuries could be avoided if manufacturers took the necessary precautions to make the safety of their customers a top priority. For those who are seriously injured by a defective or unsafe product, a products liability claim may be the appropriate way to seek justice and compensation.

Source: Boston Personal Injury News, “Baby Fell Into Washing Machine and Burned; Washer’s Fault?“, John List, July 11, 2012.