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When buying and using manufactured products, we trust in their safety even though modern manufacturing processes are complex and take place remotely. From food to cosmetics and from cars to pharmaceuticals, we trust that the producers of these everyday goods will manufacture safe products.
However, even the most cutting-edge manufacturing processes are not perfect. Whether caused by inadvertent mechanical error or by cutting corners, product defects pose a serious risk to all consumers. If you believe you have been hurt by a defective product—such as a recalled John Deere utility tractor—you may be entitled to compensation.
Our nationwide personal injury attorneys can evaluate your case, help you navigate the law, and work to strategize a path toward maximum compensation. If you have been injured by a recalled product, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer near you.
Tractor recall faqs
Recovering in personal injury cases can be a complex matter, particularly in those cases involving defective products. Because manufacturing parts, assembling final products, and ultimately distributing those products to consumers in the marketplace all involve many actors handling a chain of complicated processes, liability can belong to numerous sources. Needless to say, victims of defective products are often left daunted.
Are John Deere Tractor Recalls Common?
John Deere, an internationally iconic brand known as a historical manufacturer of agricultural equipment, has issued a string of recalls for its products in recent years. Over 20,000 John Deere “Gator” utility vehicles were recalled in September 2019 because the improper routing of a cable could ultimately cause the throttle to stick. This resulted in the operator not being able to stop the vehicle, thereby creating a crash hazard.
Soon after, in October 2019, over 7,000 John Deere compact utility tractors were recalled because the front cab support bolts were torqued improperly during manufacturing. This created a risk of failure during a rollover and thereby posed a crushing injury hazard to the operator.
Finally, as recently as August 2021, another 200 John Deere utility tractors were recalled. The reason given was that the rear wheel spacer bolts were also torqued improperly during manufacturing. This can cause the wheel to fall off during use, in turn causing the tractor to overturn and posing an injury hazard to the operator.
According to a study published in the Journal of Agromedicine, there were an impressive 4.2 million tractors on farms and ranches across the United States in 2010. By comparison, the number of vehicles recalled by John Deere in recent years seems relatively low. Unfortunately, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 416 farmers and farm workers died in 2017 from a work-related injury—the leading cause of death was tractor overturns, a recurrent and persistent problem in the agricultural sector.
What Are the Legal Routes to Recovery?
There are generally three possible routes to recovery in a defective product case: negligence, breach of warranty, and products liability. These are each addressed below.
The legal theory of negligence rests on the idea that every individual (business entities, such as manufacturers, are legally thought of as individuals) owes every other individual a duty to use “reasonable care.” That is, we all owe each other a legal to duty to take adequate precautions to ensure that our behavior—and our manufactured products—do not cause harm to others.
Successfully arguing that a manufacturer behaved negligently requires proving four intuitive elements:
1. The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff;
2. The defendant breached that duty of care;
3. The plaintiff sustained injuries; and
4. The defendant’s breach was the cause of the injury.
If the defendant disproves any of these elements, the plaintiff’s case fails. Causation is often the most difficult element to prove in a defective product case. The defendant will argue that, even if a defect was present, it was not truly the cause of your injury; for example, they may argue that your injuries were actually underlying and were only exacerbated by the accident giving rise to your case.
Similarly, many jurisdictions implement versions of “comparative fault” and “contributory negligence” into the legal analysis. The gist of these theories is simply that, if the plaintiff contributed to the accident (for example, by misusing the product), then their fault is weighed against that of the plaintiff. Damages are raised and reduced accordingly.
- Breach of Warranty. Unlike negligence and products liability, this cause of action stems from the law of contracts. When we buy a product, it comes with certain contractual assurances; one of those assurances is that the product is actually safe to use—the so called “implied warranty of fitness/suitability for purpose.” If the product is not safe to use for its marketed purpose, the seller or manufacturer can be said to have breached this “warranty of fitness/suitability.”
The advantage of arguing breach of warranty is that, if the product was in fact unsuitable for its marketed purpose, it does not matter whether the plaintiff intentionally or negligently marketed it otherwise. The plaintiff simply needs to prove that the product they were sold (a defective one) does not meet the requisite specifications of the product they thought they bought (a non-defective one). The disadvantage is that breach of warranty is typically limited to the damages of contract law, which do not account for your injuries.
- Product Liability. This area of law is the most tailored to protecting consumers from injuries caused by the products of manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, and others who bring those products to the market. Unlike negligence (which focuses on the culpability of the defendant) and breach of warranty (which focuses on contractual expectations), product liability focuses on the nature of the product itself or of its marketing.
Product liability arguments generally fall into three categories:
1. Design Defects. As the name suggests, a plaintiff will argue that the danger or risk of injury stems from the product itself—that the product is inherently dangerous. Defendants may successfully counterargue that there is no alternative design that would still fulfill the product’s purpose.
2. Manufacturing Defects. Here, plaintiffs may argue that, though the product may have been designed properly, dangerous defects were introduced in manufacturing.
3. Marketing Defects. Finally, plaintiffs may argue that, even if the product was designed and manufactured well, the defendant failed to warn consumers of the dangers associated with the product. This may be due to a simple failure to warn or a failure to provide adequate instructions on how to use the product safely.
The advantage of a product liability argument is that, depending on the jurisdiction, it is typically considered a “strict liability” offense. This means that, unlike negligence, it does not matter whether the defendant behaved reasonably; if the product is defective and caused an injury, the defendant is liable. Further, unlike breach of warranty, the plaintiff may recover damages specifically for their injuries.
What Can I Recover?
There are two broad categories of damages to recover for injuries: compensatory and punitive.
Compensatory Damages. This form of damages is meant to “make the plaintiff whole.” In other words, it is meant to place the plaintiff as close to their pre-accident position as possible. Compensatory damages generally come in two forms:
- Economic. Economic damages are those that compensate for things that can reduced to a monetary value. For example, economic damages may compensate for medical bills, lost wages, loss of property, and cost of repair and replacement.
- Non-economic. Non-economic damages, of course, are for those things that cannot be reduced to a monetary value. This includes, for example, your pain, suffering, and loss of a loved one.
Punitive Damages. Punitive damages are meant not to compensate the victim but to punish the wrongdoer. Courts are generally reluctant to award punitive damages; however, because defective products threaten the safety of the entire public, the court may use punitive damages as a way to discourage the plaintiff from manufacturing more dangerous products. It forces the plaintiff to reevaluate the cost of manufacturing and distributing such products.
How Long Can I Wait Before Filing My Case?
One of the simplest and most important considerations when filing any case is the governing statute of limitations, which sets a time limit after the injury in question after which the case can no longer be filed. Statutes of limitations are generally set between two and three years, but there is significant variation among jurisdictions.
Though a window of two or three years may seem like a long time, products liability cases are complex; the more time your attorney has to investigate the law and facts of your case, the better. Remember, if the time limits elapses, it acts as an almost virtual bar to your case. So, if you have been hurt by a product, do not hesitate to speak with an attorney near you as soon as possible.
What Should I Do If I Am Hurt by A Recalled Tractor?
Seek Medical Treatment. Of course, in any case, your wellbeing is the top priority; therefore, seek medical treatment for all injuries. This is also an important opportunity to have a medical professional document those injuries and treatment. Ultimately, these records and the associated billing records will become important evidence in your case, for they can help prove the dangerousness of the product as well as the proper value of compensatory damages you are entitled to.
Document the Accident and Contact Witnesses. The scene of the accident is another all-important source of evidence. The sooner you document the circumstances of the incident during which you were injured—the what, when, where, and how—the better, as this will reduce the risk that evidence is changed, forgotten, or destroyed. Document using notes, photographs, videos, and audio.
If any witnesses were present either at the time of the accident involving your John Deer utility tractor or in the events leading up to it, gather their contact information. Where possible, have them recount and preserve their impressions. Witness recollections and testimony is often invaluable evidence.
Hire an Attorney. If you have been injured by a product, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Before speaking with an attorney, do not admit fault to anyone. Phone calls with insurance adjusters and company representatives may be used against you in litigation, even before you have had a chance to evaluate the actual fault of the product in question.
Finally, realize that products liability cases are difficult, but do not let this discourage you. The attorneys at Zinda Law Group are here to help you navigate the complexities of your case and help you seek maximum compensation.
let our product liability attorneys fight for you
When buying manufactured products, we trust in the integrity of their manufacturing process and believe in their safety. However, when product defects lead to injuries, victims often struggle to determine their next steps; some are left unable to work due to their injuries, and some are left permanently disabled. When they should be focusing on their physical recovery, they are forced to focus instead on their financial recovery.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury caused by a recalled John Deere utility tractor, you may have a viable product liability case; do not hesitate to have your case evaluated by a product liability lawyer. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation; you pay nothing unless we win your case. That is our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
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