All over the world, people use cosmetic products to camouflage blemishes, enhance their beauty, and improve their self-esteem. While most cosmetics are carefully tested and have no lasting side effects, others may contain dangerous ingredients that can cause serious, painful, and disfiguring injuries. Companies who take shortcuts when testing their products or who use improper manufacturing processes, can and should be held liable for the resulting injuries, so if you recently suffered an injury as a result of exposure to a tainted or defective cosmetic product, it is crucial to retain an experienced personal injury attorney who can explain your legal options.
Cosmetic companies market their products as fulfilling a variety of functions, including protection from UV rays, promoting good health, and enhancing beauty. While many companies provide cosmetics that safely perform all of these functions, others manufacture their products using harsh chemicals or fail to test them appropriately before eventually marketing and selling them. Unfortunately, this can cause users to suffer serious and often permanently scarring injuries, such as:
- Bacterial infections;
- Loss of eyesight or sensation;
- Chemical burns;
- Allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock;
- Permanent hair loss;
- Lung damage;
- Scalp irritations;
- Neurological conditions;
- Swelling; and
- Long term skin conditions.
Many of these injuries can result in temporary or painful scarring and can cause extreme pain. Chemical burns are particularly dangerous because they take a considerable amount of time to heal and put patients at a high risk of infection. Recovery can be slow and require the application of expensive creams and the purchase of steroids to heal the burns. Scarring can also be emotionally traumatic for a person, causing depression and anxiety. Many victims refuse to take part in their old hobbies or leisure activities and may even quit their jobs. There is also evidence that certain chemicals used in cosmetic products are linked to birth defects, infertility, and cancer.
Unlike food products or prescription drugs, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not need to approve a cosmetic product prior to its release to the public. However, cosmetic manufacturers are still required to make their products safe for public use. If they fail to do so by including an unsafe ingredient, the product will be considered adulterated and can be pulled from the market. Furthermore, the product’s manufacturers, distributors, shippers, or sellers can be held liable for the resulting injuries and be required to compensate the victims for the following costs:
- Medical expenses, including the cost of diagnosis and treatment;
- Lost wages; and
- Pain and suffering.
To obtain these types of damages, an injured party will need to establish that the manufacturer was negligent in its production of the product. A plaintiff can demonstrate this by proving that the product suffered from one of the following problems:
- A design defect, which means that the basic design of the product was flawed;
- A manufacturing defect, which means that although the design was safe, the manufacturing process somehow resulted in a deviation from the original design; or
- The product was improperly labeled.
Furthermore, if a plaintiff is arguing that the design of the cosmetic product was itself defective, he or she must also establish that:
- The manufacturer acted unreasonably in designing the product; and
- The unreasonable conduct caused the plaintiff’s injury.
In addition to these two elements, the injured party must provide proof of one of the following:
- The manufacturer unreasonably failed to adopt a safer, more practical, and feasible alternative that would have prevented the risk of harm without impairing the product’s usefulness or desirability; or
- The design was so unreasonable that a reasonable person who was aware of the relevant facts would not use the product.
To determine whether the manufacturer acted unreasonably, the court will consider a variety of factors, including:
- The nature and magnitude of the risk;
- The product user’s awareness of the risks;
- Whether the design conformed to government standards;
- The utility of the product;
- The economic and practical feasibility of using an alternative design; and
- The magnitude of any foreseeable risks associated with the alternative design.
Alternatively, in order to prove that a manufacturer improperly labeled a product, the injured party must demonstrate that it was unreasonable not to include a warning, that the failure to warn caused the injury, and that:
- The product created an unreasonably dangerous condition that the manufacturer knew or should have known about; or
- The manufacturer became aware or should have become aware that the product posed a substantial risk of harm and failed to take reasonable steps to provide an adequate warning.
Proving that a manufacturer was negligent can be difficult, so it is especially important for parties who were injured by a defective cosmetic product to obtain the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney who is familiar with the intricacies of state law. It is also crucial to preserve evidence of the injury, including:
- The bottle, tube, or compact in which the cosmetic product was packaged;
- Photographs of the injury;
- Witness statements;
- Copies of medical records, bills, and receipts; and
- A letter from an employer documenting the victim’s lost wages.
Having this evidence can be critical in demonstrating a link between a product and an injury.
Contact a Member of our Legal Team Today
The use of cosmetics has in some ways become a universal practice. As a result, many individuals assume that the products they are purchasing have been appropriately tested and contain safe ingredients. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and many suffer allergic reactions, burns, and scarring from improperly manufactured cosmetics. At the law firm of Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A., we understand that suffering from these types of injuries can be painful, expensive, and frightening and so dedicate ourselves to helping our clients receive the compensation they deserve from negligent companies. If you recently sustained an injury after using a consumer product, please contact us by sending us a brief message or initiating a live chat with a member of our experienced personal injury legal team in Atlanta.