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Damages Available in a Defective Product Lawsuit

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What are the Types of Damages Available in a Defective Product Lawsuit?

Most defective products lawsuits are based on some form of negligence or strict liability theory.  Thus, the damages available in a defective product lawsuit usually consist of compensatory damages.  These are meant to compensate the injured party for the losses connected with the defective product. 

Punitive damages aren’t usually available in a defective products or products liability claim.  This is because punitive damages require that the defendant acted purposefully or with malicious intent in harming the plaintiff.  And, since defective products are usually based on negligence or strict liability, the defendant usually wasn’t acting with purposeful intent. 

What do Compensatory Damages in a Defective Product Lawsuit Cover?

As with most personal injury claims, compensatory damages can be further divided into two subcategories:  Economic losses and Non-economic losses.  Economic losses are those that are easily calculable into monetary dollar amounts.  Non-economic losses are those that are relatively more difficult to calculate.  

What do Economic Losses Include?

Economic damages in a defective products claim may often cover the following types of losses:

  • Medical Costs:  These may include hospital and doctor bills, pharmaceutical and medicine bills, physical therapy, etc. 
  • Disability Costs:  The defendant may be required to reimburse you for costs caused by a disability resulting from the injury.  For example, if you have experienced loss of mobility, the defendant may have to provide compensation for these costs
  • Lost Wages:  If the injury caused the plaintiff to miss work or lose profits, the defendant may have to shoulder these expenses as well
  • Property Damage:  It is common for a defective product to cause damage to property (for example, with defective garden tools, automobiles, etc.).  If the product caused destruction to property, this may be included in the compensatory damages award as well.

What About Non-Economic Losses?

Non-economic losses are often called “non-monetary losses”, or sometimes, “general damages”.  These are less frequently issued due to the difficulty in quantifying their amounts.  Many jurisdictions place limits or caps on the amount of non-economic losses that can be awarded for defective products claims.  Non-economic losses usually include:

  • Loss of Consortium:  This is where the injuries have had a negative effect on the relationship with a spouse or partner.  These damages can include loss of affection, loss of companionship, and loss of support.  Also called “loss of society”.
  • Pain and Suffering:  This includes any pain, suffering, anguish, or loss of enjoyment resulting from the injuries.  Again, it may be difficult to calculate the value of such losses, but pain and suffering damages can often be quite sizeable and may be paid over long periods of time.

Thus, there may be a number of different types of damages in a single defective products lawsuit.  It’s common for the damages award to cover both economic and non-economic losses.  The laws governing damages awards may vary by state and jurisdiction.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Damages in a Defective Products Claim?

Understanding the different types of damages available in a defective products lawsuit can be very confusing.  There are many different types of damages, and not all of them may be available in a given case.  It’s to your distinct advantage to hire a lawyer when it comes to recovering losses due to a personal injury.  An experienced lawyer will be able to represent you in court and can help you obtain full compensation for the losses you have suffered. 

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 01-30-2017 10:47 AM PST

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