The amount of products being purchased by consumers on a daily basis has risen exponentially due to advancements in technology and the expansion of online retailers. However, more products in the stream commerce also means more opportunities for legal risk and liability.
For instance, a consumer who has been injured by a faulty or defective product may be able to bring a products liability lawsuit against that product’s designer, manufacturer, distributor, and/or retailer. Furthermore, if the consumer can prove their case, then they will also be able to recover monetary damages from the party who is responsible for causing their injuries.
Thus, if you have suffered injuries as a result of using a faulty or defective product, then you may be able to sue one or more of the parties in the chain of distribution and could potentially receive damages.
Some examples of the types of claims that a products liability lawsuit may be based on include the following:
- Negligence: Negligence is one of the most common claims alleged in products liability lawsuits. A claim for negligence can arise in situations where it was reasonably foreseeable that a defective product could cause harm to a consumer and the defendant was careless or did nothing to fix the issue.
- Strict liability: In a defective products lawsuit that involves a claim for strict liability, it does not matter whether the risk of injury was foreseeable or not. A defect is simply a defect, regardless of the defendant’s intentions and no level of care or attention to detail will help.
- Under this kind of claim, if a product causes harm, then the defendant will be liable for any resulting injuries. However, only commercial suppliers can be held accountable for strict liability. Casual sellers cannot be sued for strict liability.
- Breach of warranty: Breach of warranty claims come in two different flavors: express warranties and implied warranties. The main factor that separates the two is that express warranties refer to those that are created through a seller’s actions or words.
- In contrast, implied warranties are those that a buyer assumes exist because they relied on the seller’s expertise or are those that a seller would surmise are the primary reason for which the buyer is purchasing the product. Accordingly, the seller can be held liable if the product fails to perform as they expressly or implicitly promised.
- Battery: A claim for battery will largely depend on exactly what a defendant seller knew about their product. For instance, if the defendant knew the product was dangerous and placed it into the stream of commerce without proper warning labels or instructions on how to correctly use the product, then they could be sued for battery if a person is harmed by the product.
To learn more about products liability lawsuits and whether you have a case, you should contact a local personal injury lawyer immediately for further legal advice.
Do I Need Money to Pursue a Product Liability Lawsuit?
Product liability lawsuits tend to be very expensive and can increase in cost as the case advances to trial. Fortunately, however, most defective product cases are taken on a contingency fee basis. This means that a client will not have to pay their attorney unless the attorney wins the case. If the case is unsuccessful, then the attorney will get nothing in return for their work.
On the other hand, if the case is successful, then their fee will be subtracted from the client’s damages award.
Whether a personal injury lawyer agrees to accept a products liability case on a contingency fee basis will be up to their own discretion. In most instances, a lawyer will base their decision on the strength of a prospective client’s claim and the chances that it will succeed. If the lawyer refuses to take the case on a contingency basis, then the attorneys’ fees for a defective products lawsuit can become extremely costly.
Does a Contingency Agreement Always Mean the Case Is Free?
A contingency fee agreement does not necessarily mean that a case is completely free. The amount that a plaintiff will need to pay will hinge on various state specific laws and the decision of an individual attorney. For example, some lawyers may require their clients to pay the costs of pursuing a lawsuit, such as filing fees, expenses for mailing certificates of proof, miscellaneous court costs, and so forth.
In other words, while a client may not need to pay the attorney their full fee if they lose the case, they may still be responsible for all court-related (i.e., not attorney work product) fees like how much it costs to hire an expert witness to provide testimony during a trial. Again, this will primarily be contingent on the lawyer’s discretion. A client can always try to negotiate or renegotiate their fee arrangement.
What Kinds of Damages Are Recoverable in a Product Defect Case?
There are a number of different remedies that a plaintiff may be able to recover if they are the prevailing party in a defective products lawsuit. Some damages that a winning plaintiff may be able to receive include the following:
- Economic damages: Economic or special damages are a type of compensatory damages award that is used to reimburse a plaintiff for their injuries. For example, out-of-pocket costs, such as those that the plaintiff needed to spend to pay their medical bills, make up for lost wages, and to repair damage done to their property.
- Non-economic damages: Non-economic or general damages are used to reimburse a plaintiff for injuries that are not so easily quantifiable like those related to disfigurement, disability, reputational harm, and loss of consortium.
- Pain and suffering: Pain and suffering can either be its own category or be lumped together with non-economic damages. This is compensation for the physical pain and/or emotional anguish that a plaintiff experienced as a result of their injury.
- Loss of consortium: Loss of consortium may also constitute non-economic damages, depending on the state and whether a separate lawsuit was filed. These are monetary damages for the loss of a spouse and for injuring the plaintiff’s relationship with their spouse.
- Punitive damages: Punitive damages are rarely ever awarded, but when they are, it is because the defendant did something that was so outrageous that it warranted an additional amount of damages on top of a standard damages award. Much like their name, punitive damages are actually meant to punish a defendant and to deter them from committing the same acts that caused the plaintiff’s injuries again in the future.
What Should I Do If I Wish to Pursue a Product Defect Case?
If you have been injured by a faulty or defective product and wish to pursue a defective products case, then it may be in your best interest to consult a local class action attorney for further assistance. An experienced class action attorney will be able to determine whether you have a viable claim, and if so, can you help you prepare and file your case.
Your lawyer can also discuss your options for legal recourse, what rights you have under your state’s product liability laws, what types of damages you may be entitled to, and how much you could potentially recover in damages. Additionally, your lawyer will be able to provide representation in court or during negotiations for a settlement agreement.
Lastly, upon your first meeting with an attorney, do not forget to ask about their fee arrangements and if they would be willing to enter into an agreement to take your case on a contingency fee basis. Remember, if they lose the case, then you will only be responsible for the costs that you agreed to before officially hiring them as your attorney and court fees.