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We live in a consumer culture, and thus consume all sorts of products in our everyday lives. However, not all products are safe for consumption. Products with design defects, manufacturing defects, or inadequate warnings can severely injure or even kill their consumers.
If you or your loved one has been injured by a consumer product, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our Santa Fe product liability lawyers.
Types of Defective Products
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You may occasionally see on the news an automobile manufacturer recalling a car or motorcycle because of a defect. For instance, the defect may be a faulty brake or a tendency to roll over. Such defects should be taken seriously as they can cause severe injuries to a driver. If you were injured by a defective vehicle, you need to prove the following:
- The defective vehicle had a defect that was unreasonably dangerous
- The defective vehicle caused your injury
- The vehicle was being used as it was intended when it caused the injury
- There were no substantial modifications to the vehicle that would affect its performance after it was sold.
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Dangerous Drugs and Defective Medical Devices
You are probably aware that many drugs have side effects. Though in most cases, the side effects are minor and slight, some drugs can cause permanent and detrimental side effects. For instance, antidepressants such as Zoloft or Prozac have been known to cause birth defects. You should also note that there have been defective medical devices that can cause injury as well. For example, if you decide to undergo a hernia repair surgery and receive a hernia mesh, a defective hernia mesh could cause complications after the surgery.
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From household cleaners to furniture, everyday household products can be a source of injury if they are defective.
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Some industries require workers to use machinery and tools. A defective product may cause a workplace injury, in which case you might have a defective product claim against the product manufacturer or retailer.
Read More: Santa Fe Construction Accident Attorneys
Types of Products Liability Claims
Manufacturing defects are defects that occur due to an error in the manufacturing process of the product. For instance, imagine a car factory in which the parts of a car are assembled through an assembly line. However, the part of the assembly line that adds the brake is defective, and thus causes the brake to not match the original design specifications. As a result, the brake is defective and may cause a car accident. If this occurs, you may have a claim against the manufacturer.
A design defect in a consumer product is a defect that makes the product inherently dangerous – even if the product is used in an intended and reasonable manner. For example, imagine that a company builds baby cribs. However, the company designed the cribs in such a manner that they cannot support the weight of even a lightweight baby. If this is the case, a parent whose baby suffered injuries due to the defective crib may have a claim against the company.
Marketing Defects (Failures to Warn)
Marketing defects, or failures to warn, occur when a company fails to attach a label or warn the consumer of a product’s potential harm when the product is used in a foreseeable manner. For example, if a company produces a certain type of drug, but fails to list the recommended dosage or the harms that may arise if the drug is taken over the recommended dosage, then an individual who suffers an injury as a result may be able to sue the company.
Breach of Warranty
Manufacturers and distributors can be sued if they commit a breach of warranty. There are two types of warranties: express and implied.
An express warranty is an explicit promise that a manufacturer makes about a product. For instance, let’s say you are going to purchase a washing machine, and the manufacturer states that the washing machine comes with a five-year warranty. This means that the manufacturer has made an express warranty or a guarantee that the washing machine will work properly for at least five years. If, however, the washing machine breaks down, you may have a claim for a breach of express warranty.
The other type of warranty is an implied warranty. There are two types of implied warranty: Implied warranty of merchantability and implied warranty of fitness. The implied warranty of merchantability means that the good is fit for its intended purpose. The warranty of fitness, however, means that a product is guaranteed for a specific purpose. For example, let’s say you decide to buy a saw that cuts through steel. You tell a salesperson that you want such a saw, and the salesperson hands you a saw and claims that it will cut through steel. If you go home and find out that the saw does not actually cut through steel, you may have a claim for a breach of warranty of fitness.
You may also file a negligence claim against a manufacturer or other party responsible for a defective product. A plaintiff in a product liability negligence lawsuit must show that the defendant had a duty and breached that duty. The plaintiff must also show that the breach caused the injury and that he or she was actually injured.
An example of negligence in the product liability context would be a manufacturer who makes a product haphazardly. Any party responsible for distributing or manufacturing a consumer product owes a duty of care to anyone who is likely to be injured by the product if it turns out to be defective. This means that if you buy a defective product but one of your family members gets injured instead, the party that made or distributed the product may still be liable.
How You Can Prove a Product Liability Claim
If you decide to file a product liability claim, there are several steps you should take–even before hiring an experienced attorney. Take a look at the list below for these steps.
- Do not throw away the product that caused your injury. Keep the defective product and its associated packaging and directions.
- Take photographs of the defective product. You should also take photographs of your injuries and the scene of the accident.
- If there were witnesses who saw the injury caused by the defective product, you should gather their names, addresses, and phone numbers.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible after an injury. Your health is your number one priority.
- Document what happened when you had used the defective product. Write in detail about what appeared to be wrong with the product.
- Keep your medical records, property repair bills, and other expenses due to the defective product.
- Submit an insurance claim by contacting the company that manufactured the defective product. Explain to a company representative that you wish to submit a claim for your injuries and losses. You should also contact your own insurance company to see if it provides any coverage for the injuries you received.
- Contact an experienced product liability lawyer. An attorney may help you with the above steps and give you other advice on your claim. Furthermore, if the settlement offer from the insurance company is not satisfactory, your attorney can take your case to trial.
Learn More: How to Negotiate with an Insurance Company
Compensation You May Recover
In general, the compensation you may receive is divided to compensate for economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages compensate you for objective financial losses. For instance, if you had to stay at a hospital for several weeks, the resulting hospital bill would be compensated if you are successful in your claim. Non-economic compensation compensates you for losses that do not have an objective dollar amount. For instance, if after the accident, you suffer from emotional distress, this may be compensated as well.
Who May Be Liable for My Injury
Generally, all parties involved in a consumer product’s line of distribution may be liable for your injury. For example, both the manufacturer of the product and the retailer may liable for your injury from a defective product. Other parties that may be liable include consultants, contractors, quality-control engineers, and designers.
Should I Hire a Product Liability Lawyer?
Not every injury from a defective product should warrant calling an attorney. If your injury was minor, filing a lawsuit may be more trouble than its worth. However, if any of the below situations apply to you, you may wish to seek an experienced attorney:
- Your injury is severe
- Your injury was caused by someone else
- Your insurance company representative is contacting you
- You are uncomfortable with the legal or settlement process
- Your insurance company is refusing to pay the amount you believe is owed to you
- An insurance company tries to dispute liability
- A loved one was killed by a defective product
Learn More: How to Calculate the Value of Case
Statute of Limitations
In New Mexico, a product liability lawsuit must be filed within three years of the injury or when you discover the injury. It is important that you file before the statute of limitations expires because courts are unlikely to hear your claim if you file past the deadline.
CONTACT A SANTA FE PRODUCT LIABILITY LAWYER
The experienced Santa Fe attorneys at Zinda Law Group may be able to help you with your personal injury claim. After an accident, you shouldn’t have to worry about affording legal representation, which is why we work on a contingency fee basis. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
Call us today at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our Santa Fe product liability lawyers.
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