A product liability lawsuit typically involves injuries caused by a product that is defective in some way. These are fairly common types of lawsuits, as there are so many different products available for consumers. Product liability cases can often be filed as class action lawsuits if many people were injured or affected by the product. However, the injured party might not be able to sue at all if they purchased the product as "used" or through a grey market.
What Do I Need to Prove in a Product Liability Case?
There are three different types of products liability lawsuits that can be brought: negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty. There are also certain elements that the plaintiff has the burden to prove to successfully bring products liability claim, including:
- Defect: Plaintiff must prove that the product was defective.
- Causation: Plaintiff must prove that product’s defect was the cause of their injury.
- Injury: Plaintiff must be injured as a result of the products defect
- Duty: The seller or manufacturer owed a duty to the plaintiff to make or sell a safe product
The plaintiff can bring a product liability claim under three different theories:
- Negligence: The plaintiff must prove that the manufacturer or seller owed a duty to provide a safe product; the manufacturer or seller breached that duty; the breach of duty was the cause of the plaintiff’s injury.
- Strict Liability: Under this theory, the plaintiff can bring a products liability claim to any unsafe and dangerous product regardless of whether the manufacturer or seller was negligent. The person that gave the user the product would be strictly liable even if they were not the person who was responsible for causing the products defect.
- Breach of Warranty: When products have certain warranties provided by the manufacturer and those warranties fail and cause injury, the plaintiff can bring a breach of warranty lawsuit.
What Types of Product Liability Are There?
Products liability may be proven using three different types of defective product theories. Understanding these types of product liability theories can help you understand if you have a case or not. They include:
- Warning defects: The product lacked sufficient warning labels or instructions, and these defects caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
- Manufacturing defect: The product was defect in the way that it was manufactured or produced. This usually refers to a product that is designed properly, but was individually manufactured in a wrong way.
- Design defect: Here, the injuries resulted from defects related to the way the product was designed. Design defects have the potential for injuring large groups of consumers, and they are often latent.
Note that a products liability case can involve one or more of the types listed above. Most lawsuits only involve one type of defect, but liability may increase if the product is defective in more than one way.
How Do I Prepare for Product Liability Claim?
When preparing for a product liability claim, you may wish to:
- Save the product, as this will likely be used as evidence in court.
- Save the packaging and instructions of the product if possible. This can also be used as evidence, such as for proving a warning defect.
- Retain your receipts, since you usually have to purchase a product in order to recover damages due to product liability.
You may also wish to begin compiling medical records or receipts if you have been seriously injured. These may be necessary when calculating damages. Lastly, you can also check online listings for product recalls or dangerous product listings, to see if your product is listed as a dangerous product. You may also wish to begin anticipating any defenses to product liability.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover?
If you are successful in a products liability claim, you may be able to recover up to four different types of damages:
- Compensatory Damages - Damages to cover your economic loss caused by the injury such as past and future medical expenses, time lost from work and any property damage that was caused by the defective product.
- Pain and Suffering - Any damages that caused pain and suffering which you endured as a result of your injury.
- Loss of Consortium - These damages are to compensate you for the effect this has had on your relationship with your spouse. Your spouse can even recover this type of damage even if the defective product did not physically injure them.
- Punitive Damages - If the defendant's conduct was so outrageous and willful that the courts want ensure that the defendants do not repeat the conduct, the courts can award punitive damages as a punishment to the defendant. Many jurisdictions limit the amount of punitive damages that the plaintiff can recover.
Is Bringing a Products Liability Claim Expensive?
Most products liability cases are taken on a contingency fee basis. Under a contingency fee basis, the client does not have to pay for the attorney’s services unless the plaintiff is successful in the case. When the plaintiff receives some kind of compensation or settlement from the defendant, then the attorney will take out an agreed percentage from the settlement.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Product liability claims can often involve many different legal theories, and they may require the help of a lawyer. You may need to hire a personal injury lawyer in your area if you believe that you have been injured due to a defective product.