Product Liability Lawyers
What is Product Liability?
Most products sold today are safe for general use. However, some products have defects in design or construction, which make them not work properly, or even worse, cause harm to the user. Product liability describes the area of law that attempts to recover loss caused by a defective product. Where a product causes unexpected loss damage to the consumer, the law protects consumer from by holding the party that caused the defect responsible for the damage. The responsible party may be the designer, the manufacturer, the distributor or the seller of the product, or a combination thereof. Determining who is responsible, requires an understanding of how the product was designed, created , manufactured and distributed so that you can determine where along this chain of responsibility the defect occurred.
What Kind of Defects Can Cause Product Liability?
There are three primary types of product defects:
- Design Defect: A product has a design defect if the design (or blueprints) of the product is unsafe. For example, if a coffee cup is designed such that the bottom melts whenever there is a hot fluid in it, it has a design defect.
- Manufacturing Defect: A product has a manufacturing defect if the product's design is sound but the method of making the product is unsafe. For example, if a desk is mistakenly assembled at the factory without several screws as called for in the design, it has a manufacturing defect.
- Warning Defect: If a product does not have sufficient instructions or warnings about its use, and you are injured as a result, the product has a warning defect. For example if you buy a lawn mower that doesn't have safety warnings about the blade, and the blade cuts you, then there is a warning defect.
Some products are simply dangerous by nature. Danger alone does not create liability on the parties who designed or made it. Those who buy dangerous products do so knowingly, and they assume the risk of being injured by the expected danger. However, if the danger is not one that one would ordinarily expect to be associated with the product, or if the consumer was not properly warned of the product's danger (so that he could not have knowingly assumed the risk), then the responsible parties may be held liable for injuries incurred as a result of the danger Product liability protects the consumer against injury from unexpected danger.
Legal Theories of Product Liability
Depending on state law and the circumstances of the injury a case may be brought under negligence, strict liability or a breach of warranty theories. Many states have enacted extensive liability statutes. Some of these are modeled after the Model Uniform Products Liability Act.
- Negligence: Under a negligence theory, the plaintiff would need to show that the defendant's breach of duty caused the plaintiff to suffer a loss. A plaintiff might sue the manufacturer of a bicycle if a flaw in the bike's manufacturing caused the bike's chain to break and permanently damage the plaintiff's foot. Generally, the liability of the defendant would be offset by any fault of the plaintiff.
- Strict Liability: Many states consider product liability be a strict liability offense. This means that if the product is found to be defective, the negligence or fault of the user would not reduce the liability of the defendant. If defendant is found to be responsible for the defective product, the defendant is completely liable for the damage.
- Statute: Some states have enacted specific laws to address product liability. These laws will define the proof required to show that certain types of products are defective, and they may also put caps on recovery. These statutes will vary by state.
Note that most states put limitations on how long you can wait before filing your claim. These statutes of limitation will completely prevent you from filing if you wait too long. Your legal representative will be able to tell you which of your state laws will apply to your situation and he or she will devise a strategy to maximize the compensation for your loss.
Do you have a Product Liability case?
At minimum, to win a product liability case you will need to:
- Show a quantifiable loss (damage to your person or your property)
- Show that the loss was caused by an unexpected danger or defect of the product
- Was there a safer design available?
- Did the defendant know of prior accidents?
- Was the consumer sufficiently notified the danger?
- Show the designer, manufacturer, or distributor or another party is responsible for the unexpected danger or defect
- Be prepared to show that the injury wasn't caused by your own negligence, i.e. that you used the product for its intended purpose and that you used it in the way it was intended to be used
- Bring the case within the statute of limitations definite by your state law
Product Liability Recovery
What compensation can you expect to receive? If you have a defective product, you may be able to recover the cost to replace the product. If the defective product also caused personal injuries, you may seek compensation for your:
- Medical Bills
- Missed Work
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Consortium : lost time and companionship with your spouse
- Punitive Damages : extra money to punish the defendant if they acted exceptionally irresponsibly
Do I Need a Lawyer to Handle My Product Liability Case?
Product Liability cases can be very tricky and hiring a legal advocate will maximize the possibility of recovery for your loss. The legal theories and limitations of product liability are vast, complicated and they vary by state. Your case may require that you hire experts to explain design or manufacturing issues. An attorney will be invaluable in dealing with all issues involved in a products liability case.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 10-18-2012 02:08 PM PDT
Did you find this article informative?