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When you buy a product, you generally assume that it is safe and will not injure you. Unfortunately, in some cases, a product may unexpectedly malfunction or otherwise injure you, often causing serious and unexpected injuries.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective product or because a product lacked adequate or accurate warnings, call the Albuquerque product liability attorneys from Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation. If we are unable to win your case, you will not owe us anything.
WHAT IS PRODUCT LIABILITY?
People generally do not expect a product to break or fail during use. However, defective products may be dangerous. Defective products may cause significant or catastrophic injuries resulting in serious physical, emotional, and financial damage to the victim. Product liability refers to the legal responsibility, or liability, of a seller, distributor, or manufacturer for selling, distributing, designing, or manufacturing a dangerous or defective product. Manufacturers and those involved in the retail process for these products must take due care in designing, manufacturing, marketing, and selling these products to consumers.
WHO MAY BE LIABLE?
Depending on the specific circumstances of the case and nature of the defect, a victim may seek compensation from one or more parties, including the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer. Any party involved in the defective product’s chain of distribution may generally be held liable in a product liability lawsuit, such as:
The manufacturer of the defective product may be the most obvious party to be liable for your injuries caused by the defective product. Depending on the nature of the defect and the specifics of the product, the manufacturer of the defective part may be held liable, as may the manufacturer of the final product. For example, imagine an auto manufacturer fails to properly inspect a defective gas tank, which is then placed inside the auto manufacturer’s vehicle and later explodes, causing serious injuries. In this example, both the manufacturer of the defective gas tank and the auto manufacturer may be liable for the car accident caused by the defective product.
Distributors, or wholesalers, are generally the “middlemen” that operate between the manufacturers and retailers in the supply chain. They buy the products from the manufacturers and sell them to retailers. The retailers then sell the product to the consumer. Distributors may be held liable for distributing defective products that cause injuries.
Retailers, including chains like Walmart, local family-owned stores, and online stores like Amazon, generally warrant that the products they sell are safe and suitable for use. If a consumer is injured by a defective product they bought from a retailer, the retailer may be held liable for the victim’s injuries even though the retailer was not involved in the designing or the manufacturing of the defective product.
PROVING LIABILITY IN A PRODUCT LIABILITY CASE
Product liability claims are different from other personal injury claims, as many of these claims do not require proof that the other acted negligently. Rather, while many personal injury cases require extensive evidence proving that the other party breached an applicable duty of care which caused damages to the victim, manufacturers are held strictly liable in product liability cases involving defective products or inadequate warnings. Thus, a victim simply has to prove that a product was defective and that this defect caused the victim’s injuries.
Strict liability may apply in your case if your attorney can prove that at least one of the following defects applies:
A design defect is an error in the product’s original design, which made the product dangerous when it was used as directed or for another acceptable or foreseeable purpose. If the product contains a design defect, then even when products are manufactured correctly, they may still be dangerous because of the design error.
For example, a pharmaceutical company may inadvertently develop and sell medication with a dangerous ingredient. In another case, a vehicle may contain a defect in its design, such as when a roof was designed in such a way that it crushes a passenger if the vehicle rolls over in an accident. Importantly, to prove the product was defectively designed, your attorney may generally need to prove that a safer alternative design was available to the manufacturer and was feasible, but it was not used.
Even if a product is designed safely, an error may occur during the manufacturing process, causing a manufacturing defect that makes the product dangerous. There may have been an error during the product’s assembly or production, such as when an worker uses inadequate parts or inadvertently fails to include a necessary component, making the product dangerous to use in the component’s absence.
Failure to Warn
Finally, even when there is no design or manufacturing defect, some products may still be dangerous to users, even if used as instructed or in a foreseeable manner. Manufacturers and sellers of a product must generally warn consumers of a product’s dangers, especially if those dangers are not readily obvious. Manufacturers and retailers may be liable when they fail to warn consumers of a product’s dangers or risks when used, or by failing to include adequate warning labels or proper instructions that would prevent consumers from being injured when using the product.
For example, a pharmaceutical company may fail to warn consumers of the potential side effects of using a medication, or a manufacturer may fail to include a warning on a product that would notify consumers of its dangerous nature if used improperly. If a product’s dangers are not readily obvious, and warnings are missing, hard to see, or difficult to understand, an injured consumer may be able to file a product liability claim.
ELEMENTS OF A PRODUCT LIABILITY CLAIM
To hold a party liable for your product liability injury, your Albuquerque defective product lawsuit will generally need to prove several elements to hold the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer liable for the injuries caused by the defective product. These elements include:
1. The Product Was Defective
First, your attorney will need to prove the product was defective. Here, your attorney will need to show that the product had either a manufacturing defect or a design defect, or alternatively, your lawyer may prove that the party responsible for the product failed to adequately warn of the risks or dangers involved in using the product.
2. The Product Was Being Properly Used as Intended
To hold a party in the distribution chain liable for injuries caused by a defective product, you will have to show that the product was being used in the way the manufacturer intended it to be used, or at least in a way that the manufacturer could have expected a reasonable person to use it. The other party may attempt to claim you were using the product in an unintended and unforeseeable manner and this unintended use was the actual cause of your injuries.
3. The Victim Was Injured or Suffered Damages
You need to show that you suffered injuries as a result of the product’s defect, such as burns or other injuries, or that you suffered some other damages, such as monetary loss from replacing other items damaged by the defective product. If you are not able to prove you suffered actual injuries or other monetary losses, you may generally not be able to win a product liability claim.
4. The Product’s Defect Caused the Injuries
Your lawyer will also need to prove that your injuries were caused by the defect itself. Thus, even if a product has a defect that makes it dangerous, but your injuries were not actually caused by that defect, your claim may not be successful. For example, if the manufacturer failed to warn that a product could overheat and cause severe burns, but your injuries were caused in a different way that was warned against by the manufacturer, the failure to warn may not support your specific product liability claim.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
Any product liability claim must generally be brought before the statute of limitations, or legal time limit, has expired. In New Mexico, the statute of limitations for product liability lawsuits, as with other personal injury claims, is three years after you suffered the injury. Any claims brought after three years from the date of the injury will generally be barred. However, for injuries to minors, the minor will have one year from the date they turn 18 to file a product liability claim.
WHY YOU NEED A LAWYER FOR A PRODUCT LIABILITY CLAIM
More so than many other personal injury claims, product liability claims may be especially complex, requiring an experienced attorney in Albuquerque to help you successfully seek the compensation you may be entitled to. These product liability claims often involve major manufacturing companies, large insurance companies, or other powerful corporations or industry names. The company will have teams of lawyers and seemingly endless legal resources to dispute your injury claim. An Albuquerque product liability lawyer may help you level this playing field.
Learn More: How to Negotiate with an Insurance Company
GET A CASE EVALUATION FROM ZINDA LAW GROUP
At Zinda Law Group, our Albuquerque attorneys are here to assist you with your claim. We help our clients seek the maximum compensation they may be entitled to after they or a loved one have been injured by a defective product.
Call (800) 863-5312 today for a free consultation with one of our Albuquerque defective product attorneys. As one of our clients, you will not pay anything unless we can win your Albuquerque product liability claim. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
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