Product manufacturers have a legal responsibility to consumers to produce and distribute products that are safe for consumer use or consumption. When injuries have been suffered due to the use or consumption of a good, a product liability claim questions the measures taken to ensure that a safe and dependable product has been produced.
Even seemingly obvious dangers must be addressed by manufacturers for the safety of consumers, even if the manufacturer learns of the defect after the distribution of a product.
Defective products can range from cars, to medical devices, to children’s toys, to everyday household items. These defective products can cause harm, which leads to thousands of serious, and in some cases life threatening, injuries to consumers each year.
Product Liability Services
The Stark & Stark Personal Injury attorneys will fight to recover all the benefits you deserve. As a result of our experience in representing clients in product liability matters, and through careful assessment and preparation, our personal injury lawyers help victims and their families obtain cash settlements for injury, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Sometimes these positive outcomes are achieved only by going to trial. However, in many cases our lawyers are able to obtain favorable settlements outside of the courtroom, making the experience less stressful for our clients.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions and answers to help you better understand what’s involved in product liability matters and important steps to follow to safeguard your safety and rights.
What Is the Basis for a Products Liability Claim?
There are three basic types of defects: Manufacturing, Design and Insufficient Instructions or Warnings.
- Manufacturing Defect – The product is well designed, but the way in which it was made makes it unsafe. Maybe the kind of plastic used was weak and that caused the plastic to break when it should have been sturdier.
- Design Defect – The design of the product is unsafe, so the entire product line is unreasonably dangerous. See if there’s a better way to design the product and whether it makes sense to do so. Design defects also apply to the way a product is packaged. For example, if a drug is supposed to be sold in a childproof container and it’s not, and a child takes the drug and dies, the manufacturer can be held responsible.
- Insufficient Instructions or Warnings – The manufacturer may design a product that’s perfectly safe and has no manufacturing defects, but then fails to include proper warnings or instructions for safe operation.
What Do You Need to Prove in a Products Liability Case?
This varies from state to state. Product liability cases are generally based on strict liability rather than negligence. Strict liability means that you don’t have to prove fault, you only have to prove that the product was defective, if injured and your injury was as a result of the defect.
What Does “Defective Product” Mean?
A “defective product” is a product that causes damage or injury to a person as a result of some defect in the product itself, its labeling, or in the way that the product is used. The manufacturer or the person who sold the product to you can be held liable. All states have some form of product liability laws. Cases include everything from a car seat with handles that break when they’re being carried, to a car with an airbag that will not deploy, to harmful side effects from a drug that is improperly tested.
Normally What Type of Damages Can I Recover?
You can potentially recover four different types of damages from a products liability case:
- Compensatory Damages – these are the damages to cover your medical bills, time lost from work and any property damage that was caused by the defective product.
- Pain and Suffering – these damages are for the pain that 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 may be able to recover this type of damage even if the defective product did not personally injure them.
- Punitive Damages – if the defendants’ conduct was so awful that the courts want to be sure that they and others will never do it again, they may award damages that punish the defendant. Many jurisdictions are limiting or restricting the amount of punitive damages that you can recover.
If I Decide to Pursue My Case, What Do I Need to Provide to My Attorney?
You will need to provide your attorney with:
- The product itself (if you still have it)
- Information about where you purchased it
- Any manuals or other material that came with the product
- Pictures of the product and where the injury occurred, if possible
- Copies of your medical records
- Time that you missed from work
- Receipts for any property damage (such as cleaning bills or receipts for damaged clothing)
- Begin a journal and document everything:
- Details of what occurred
- What was said by any witnesses
- Your injuries, the pain and feelings you experience due to your injuries
- Appointments resulting from the accident and distances traveled
- Time you had to take off work
- Time spent talking with the insurance company as well as your lawyer
- Effects of the injuries on your family
Is There a Certain Amount of Time That I Have to File My Case?
Yes. In every state there is a limited amount of time, called a “statute of limitations,” in which you have to file your suit. The time when the statute of limitations begins to run is usually the date of injury. Some states have what is called a “delayed discovery” rule where the statute of limitations doesn’t begin to run until you “discover” the injury. This is important in some cases, such as where you develop cancer due to exposure to a hazardous material or you have breast implants that leak, and you don’t know about it until months or years later.
If you, or someone you know, has suffered injuries from a defective product, or would simply like more information about product liability, please contact us.