Defective Hip Replacements and Products Liability Law

Patients with hip pain often turn to hip replacement surgery for relief. Unfortunately, many patients have received defective hip replacements. Defective hips can cause painful complications, such as metal poisoning or loosening of hip implants. Due to the serious problems associated with defective hips, many patients are forced to undergo hip revision surgery to replace their defective hip.

As a result, thousands of patients have filed product liability lawsuits against hip replacement manufacturers, claiming their hips had a dangerous defect. This article provides an explanation of what product liability is, how it applies to defective hip replacements, and why filing a lawsuit may be beneficial.

Product Liability Law

Under product liability law, manufacturers and sellers generally have a duty to ensure that the products they sell are free of dangerous defects. Consumers who are injured by defective products can file a lawsuit to obtain compensation. Product liability is based on state law and usually involves two legal theories: strict liability and negligence.

In strict liability, manufacturers are liable for injuries caused by their defective products regardless of the manufacturer’s actions. Negligence, on the other hand, focuses on the conduct of a manufacturer or seller. In a negligence cause of action, the plaintiff must prove that the manufacturer’s carelessness caused the product to be defective.

For any product liability claim, the injured individual must prove the product is unreasonably dangerous and defective. There are three types of defects that give rise to manufacturer or seller liability: design defects, manufacturing defects, and defects in warnings.

Design Defects

A design defect is an error in a product’s design that causes injuries to consumers. One example of a design defect is metal-on-metal replacement hips. The all-metal design of these hip implants leads to friction between their metal components. As a result, the replacement hips deteriorate at a high rate and release toxic metal particles into patients’ bodies. In response, many patients have filed product liability suits against the manufacturers, arguing that they wouldn’t have been injured had it not been for the metal-on-metal design of these hips.

Modern courts use a risk benefit analysis in determining design defects. In other words, plaintiffs must prove the product can be made safer using an alternative design. For example, injured patients may argue that the metal-on-metal replacement hips could have been made safer by using ceramic or polyethylene components.

Manufacturing & Warning Defects

Another type of defect may arise during the manufacturing process. In these cases, errors in the production process cause the products to be released with dangerous defects. For example, injured patients can argue that their defective hip replacements were manufactured improperly on the assembly line, causing them to fail at a high rate.

Lastly, defects in warnings occur when the manufacturer fails to provide adequate warnings about the dangers associated with a product. Under product liability law, manufacturers have an obligation to warn consumers of foreseeable risks at the time of manufacture. For example, plaintiffs may argue that artificial hip manufacturers released inadequate warnings about the health risks involved with metal-on-metal hips. In addition, plaintiffs may claim that an adequate warning would have prevented them from receiving a metal hip in the first place.

Filing a lawsuit

Many patients who experience replacement hip failure will need additional surgery to replace the defective hip. To recover compensation for the resulting lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering, many patients have filed product liability lawsuits against the manufacturer of their hips. Consequently, patients who’ve been injured by defective hip replacements may want to discuss their legal options with an attorney.