When you buy a product, you use it without expecting it to harm you or your loved ones. Sadly, many people across the country become victims of defective product injuries every year. If a defective product causes you harm, you can file a product liability claim case to seek compensation for your loss and suffering.
However, these lawsuits can be complex, and you need an experienced lawyer to handle the legal aspects on your behalf and help recover the most damage. A Trinity product liability lawyer from Perenich Law Injury Attorneys can help.
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Which Are the Three Types of Product Defects?
A product liability lawsuit based on a design defect alleges that a victim’s injuries are due to the inherent design of the item. That is, the product is dangerous for regular and intended use due to its design.
Design defects include:
- A child’s doll containing small accessories and beads which can be a serious choking hazard
- A model of firearm that fires without pulling the trigger due to a defective fire control system
A product liability claim based on manufacturing defects alleges that a product has a safe design, but some errors during manufacturing make it unsafe. Therefore, the product may cause harm due to a malfunction or problem that occurs during assembly.
The defect exists even if there was proper care while making the product.
- A motorbike that was assembled and released to the market without brake pads
- A faulty seatbelt that does not restrain a passenger properly during an accident
Labeling or Warning Defects
A product claim based on warning or labeling defects alleges that a product that caused injuries had some inherent danger, and the manufacturer of the product failed to warn consumers about potential hazards or guide them on how to use the product properly.
- A hairdryer that did not have a risk of electric shock warning
- A prescription medication that leads to adverse side effects but is not indicated on the warning label
Who Is Liable for Defective or Malfunctioning Products?
Most states have similar product liability laws regarding who is liable in the case, but there are some exceptions. A Trinity product liability lawyer can help you understand the potential defendants in your product liability case.
Common potential defendants include:
The manufacturer of an injury-causing product is at the head of the distribution chain. It could be a small business, a single individual working in a makeshift workshop, or a multinational conglomerate.
Sometimes, you can hold the manufacturer of an entire product or the one who designed a defective part liable. For example, if a vehicle battery explodes, the potential defendants could be both the company that makes the battery and the vehicle’s manufacturer.
Retailers could be liable in a product liability case if they sold a faulty product, even if they were not involved in the manufacturing process. These could be brick-and-mortar retail outlets and even online retailers.
When they put up an item and market it for sale, it implies that the item is safe for use. Therefore, they can be liable for having a role in your injuries.
Note that you may sue the retailer even if:
- You didn’t use the product. You can sue a retailer even if you suffer injuries from a product someone else was using. For example, if your injuries resulted from a blade that flew from a neighbor’s defective lawnmower, you can name the retailer as a defendant.
- You weren’t the buyer. You may seek compensation even if you are not the one who personally bought a defective product. For instance, if you suffer food poisoning after consuming a drink you received from a neighbor and establish the problem resulted from the drink’s spoiled ingredients, you can sue the retailer who sold it to your neighbor.
Wholesalers, Distributors, or Suppliers
The intermediaries between the manufacturers and retailers, including wholesalers, suppliers, and distributors, can be potential defendants in a product liability claim case. They are all part of the faulty product’s distribution chain, thus potentially liable in a lawsuit.
What Is the Timeline for Filing a Product Liability Lawsuit?
While you are eligible to sue for defective products, product liability cases have time limits. Below are three issues that affect the timeline of product liability lawsuits:
Statute of Limitations
Each state has its statute of limitations determining the timeframe for making a product liability claim. Some states have a time limit of two years, while others have four or more years. But no state has a time limit of less than a year for product liability cases. If your defective product caused you harm and you wish to file a claim, an attorney can help you know the time limit.
Filing the Complaint
The ball starts rolling immediately after your lawyer files a complaint. Once served with the complaint, the defendant has typically 20 to 30 days to file an answer. However, as a professional courtesy, the parties may agree to extend the period to allow the filing of documents. The court won’t interrupt such a decision if all the parties are in agreement.
Specific state rules govern what parties may request from each other during discovery and in what forms. The duration of this could be longer or shorter depending on the court rules, attorney cooperation, or the claim case itself.
Must I File a Class Action for Defective Product Injury?
No. You don’t always have to file a class-action lawsuit. Oftentimes you may file product liability as an original case. But sometimes, the case can be brought into a class action or multi-district litigation setting.
A class-action case is a lawsuit filed by a representative on behalf of several other individuals with similar claims. In the context of products liability, it is a lawsuit alleging that a product caused injury to multiple people in a similar or same way.
Although it is an efficient way to work on judicial claims for several people while lowering litigation costs, initiating such a lawsuit may be complex. For instance, the matters require a party representative for the whole class. A liability lawyer from Perenich Law Injury Attorneys can help you file the appropriate lawsuit to get the compensation you deserve in your case.
What Are the Phases in a Product Liability Lawsuit?
Filing the Claim
If you have an injury resulting from a defective product, the first step is to file a complaint with the court against the defendant. The complaint explains the parties involved, describes the lawsuit, and sets forth the legal theories about your claims.
Notifying the Defendant
File a summons and serve it upon the defendant, notifying them about the initiated lawsuit and that they should answer the complaint in 20 to 30 days, depending on the state. The defendant must respond to each claim and raise any defenses it has to the allegations.
You and the defendant enter the discovery period, where you exchange information to learn facts that support each side of the case.
You may engage the defendant to settle the case without a trial. The mediation can be done through an attorney. It can also be a private or court-involved settlement process where an unbiased third party tries to help the parties resolve the case.
If mediation is unsuccessful, the product liability case then proceeds to trial. The trial begins with each lawyer making an opening statement that introduces the jury to the facts of the case, followed by the presentation of witnesses from both sides. Each lawyer gives closing arguments summarizing the evidence and persuading the court and the jury that their side’s version of the case is correct. Finally, the jury deliberates and announces its verdict.
What Do I Need to Prove in Product Liability Lawsuits?
Under strict liability, the manufacturer is responsible for injury-causing products, even if the defects were not due to negligence. However, you must show that the manufacturer failed to act with reasonable care according to specific industry standards. Strict liability applies to the products purchased in the distribution chain; thus, second-hand items are not eligible.
You must produce evidence to show that your injuries resulted from carelessness in the design or creation of a product. In short, you show that the liable party had a duty to sell a safe product and breached that duty and proving that your injuries were due to the product defect.
Negligence can occur in various aspects of manufacturing, including maintenance of machines that assemble a product, haste release of a product, or failure to consider its potential uses.
Breach of Warranty
Buyers rely on express warranty and implied warranty when buying a product. Express warranty refers to any representation that a manufacturer or retailer makes about the product’s safety, while an implied warranty is the manufacturer’s promise about the product’s safety. You must prove a violation of the defendant’s commercial statement or warranty.
How Can an Attorney Help in a Product Liability Lawsuit?
Product liability lawsuits are usually complex since the defendants may try to fight the claims, thus making it difficult to prove fault. Therefore, you need a product liability attorney for your case. A lawyer can help in the following ways:
Solid evidence is crucial to building a strong product liability claim case. An attorney may help gather evidence from the police report, medical records, eyewitnesses, etc.
Manufacturers must ensure their product’s safety and thus can be liable for harm linked to the defectiveness of their products. Sellers can also be held liable for playing a part in putting an injury-causing product in a buyer’s hands. A product liability lawyer can help you prove negligence by showing that you used the product correctly, but it was defective or malfunctioning, and your injuries were due to the defect.
Most importantly, a lawyer can help refute common arguments that the liable party may attempt to use to disprove your lawsuit. For example, the liable party may argue that you had modified the product.
Negotiating a Settlement
The liable party may try to overlook your injuries and offer a lower settlement than you deserve. An attorney can help determine the appropriate compensation and negotiate on your behalf to prevent the liable party from shortchanging you. Your lawyer can also help you file a lawsuit if the negotiations are unsuccessful.
Keeping Track of Crucial Deadlines
Product liability cases have a time limit. A lawyer can help you understand the effect of the statute of limitations on your case and ensure you beat the deadlines.
What Damages to Recover Can I Recover from a Product Liability Lawsuit?
The main damages you can expect to recover in a product liability case are economic and non-economic losses.
Economic Loss Damages
Economic loss damages compensate you for finances lost due to the product malfunction or defect. They include the following:
You can receive compensation to pay medical bills to doctors, pharmacies, physical therapists, and more. They may also include the costs of prescription medications and extended hospital stays.
Loss of Wages
You can receive compensation for lost wages resulting from defective product injuries. For instance, if you cannot perform as you used to before the injury or cannot return to work completely.
You may be eligible for compensation to repair or replace property damaged by a defective product.
Cost of Lifelong Disability
You can receive compensation for the lifelong disabilities you suffer as a result of the defective product.
Non-Economic Loss Damages
Non-economic loss damages compensate you for other losses that are not quantifiable by value. They include the following:
Loss of Consortium
You can get compensation if injuries from a defective product hurt or cause difficulties in your relationship with your spouse.
Pain and Suffering
You can get compensation for the pain and suffering a faulty product caused.
Get Help From a Trinity Product Lawyer Now
Injuries resulting from defective or malfunctioning products can lead to significant emotional, financial and physical distress. If a defective product injured you, you may want to file a product liability lawsuit seeking compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and more.
Perenich Law Injury Attorneys – Trinity Office