If you have been injured by a faulty or defective product you may be able to file a product liability suit against the product’s designer, manufacturer, distributor, or seller, and receive compensation for your injury. The term “products liability” encompasses the following types of claims:
- Battery: Available where the defendant knew that the product was dangerous and didn’t place warning labels on it.
- Negligence: Available where it was reasonably foreseeable that the product could pose a danger to consumers and the defendant acted carelessly.
- Strict liability: A defendant who is a “commercial supplier,” and not a “casual seller,” is always liable if their product harms someone.
- Breach of warranty: Available where the seller made guarantees to the buyer and the product failed to perform as promised.
Do I Need Money to Pursue a Product Liability Lawsuit?
Product liability lawsuits can be very expensive to bring and move forward. However, most product defect cases are handled by attorneys on a contingency fee basis. This means that your attorney will only recover if the case is successful and his fee will consist of a portion of the award or settlement. You do not pay the attorney on an hourly basis, and depending on your state's laws, the attorney may even advance the expenses of the suit, including costs of expert witnesses
It is up to the lawyer’s discretion whether to accept your case on a contingency fee basis. The lawyer’s decision will depend on the strength of your claim and likelihood of success.
Does a Contingency Agreement Always Mean the Case Is Free?
Not exactly; some states and attorneys require claimants to pay costs associated with pursuing a lawsuit, either up front or as incurred. While you may not have to pay the attorney a fee if there is no recovery, you may be responsible for costs (including expert witness testimony) if you lose your case.
What Kinds of Damages Are Recoverable in a Product Defect Case?
If you have a successful case, you may be entitled to the following:
- Compensatory damages: Reimbursement for medical bills, lost wages, and property damage resulting from the product defect.
- General damages: Reimbursement for injuries not easily quantifiable, such as disability, disfigurement, harm to reputation, pain and suffering (see below), and loss of consortium (see below).
- Pain and suffering: Reimbursement for the physical pain and emotional trauma you experienced as a result of your injury.
- Loss of consortium: Reimbursement for the effects of the injury on your relationship with your spouse; the spouse of the injured party may also be able to recover these damages, even if they are not directly injured by the product.
- Punitive damages: Damages intended to punish the defendant’s “egregious” (wanton or malicious) conduct; these are not available in every case and are limited in many jurisdictions
What Should I Do If I Wish to Pursue a Product Defect Case?
If you have been injured by a faulty or defective product you should consult a products and services attorney. Although product defect cases can be expensive to pursue, your attorney might be willing to front the litigation costs by taking your case on a contingency fee basis; and you will likely be heavily compensated if you win.