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As customers of consumer goods, we expect products to operate safely without the risk of harm or injury. However, products may be defective. In some cases, the defect may be nothing more than a harmless cosmetic mistake. In other cases, the defect may pose a risk to the health and safety of its user. If this is the case, the manufacturer or retailer of the product may be held liable for injuries caused.
If you have been the victim of a product related injury and are interested in pursuing legal action, or if you would like to learn more about your rights following a product related injury, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive a free case evaluation with one of our experienced product liability lawyers.
WHAT IS PRODUCT LIABILITY?
Product liability is an area of personal injury law where a manufacturer or seller of a defective product may be subject to legal liability for harm caused by the defective product. In addition to governing the duties and expectations a manufacturer or retailer of a product must adhere to, product liability law also sets forth the remedies that may be available to a person who is injured or harmed by a defective product.
A product must meet the reasonable and ordinary standards of the consumer. When a manufacturer or retailer places a product with an unexpected dangerous defect on the market, the product fails to meet the reasonable and ordinary expectations of the consumer. In such cases, the manufacturer or retailer may be liable if someone is injured as a result.
Because there is no federal law governing defective products, claims are brought under and governed by the laws of the individual states. Although state laws may vary, claims are typically based on theories of negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty.
COMMON PRODUCT DEFECTS
Nearly every consumer product can have a defect of some kind. The defect may be a manufacturing defect or a design defect.
A manufacturing defect involves the dangerous product being an anomaly, and the difference between the product at hand and all other products is the difference that causes the defective product to be dangerous. On the other hand, a design defect is a problem common to each unit that the seller could have remedied through a reasonable alternative design.
Listed below are examples of common product defects.
Drug manufacturers have a duty to adhere to the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines when formulating, promoting, and selling their products. Even if a drug manufacturer follows these guidelines, the manufacturer may still be liable if a defective drug causes illness or injury.
Automobile manufacturers must safely design and equip their vehicles. When a car or car part has a faulty design or is equipped with a defective part, such as a faulty steering wheel, automobile manufacturers and retailers may face liability for subsequent car accidents.
A significant portion of product liability claims involve everyday home appliances such as hairdryers, extension cords, coffee makers, and toaster ovens. When one of these products does not function as it supposed to, and an injury results from the use of the defective product, the company that manufactured or sold the product may face liability.
Machinery and Tools
Power tools are another common source of a product liability claim. If a product such as a drill or chainsaw has a manufacture or design defect, and the defect causes harm or injury to its user, the user may have grounds for a claim.
Learn More: Workplace Injuries
COMMON INJURIES FROM DEFECTIVE PRODUCTS
There is a wide variation in the types of harm that may arise from product liability cases. Many harms involve physical injury. Other harms involve property damage. For instance, a Tennessee family recently sued Amazon after a defective hoverboard caught fire and burned the family’s house down. Other examples of injuries that may arise include:
Illness or Disease
Illness or disease is one type of harm that may be caused by a defective product. For example, if a contaminated drug or food product causes injury to the customer, the company who manufactures, produces, or sells the drug or food may face liability for subsequent harm incurred.
Many defective product injury cases involve an individual sustaining a burn or other form of skin damage. For instance, lawsuits have been filed against e-cigarette manufacturers, alleging that a defective e-cigarette malfunctioned and exploded, leading to significant burn injuries. Automobile manufacturers may also face liability for defective seatbelts which can inflict injury to a person’s chest or neck area.
Power tools, automobiles or automotive parts, and other hazardous products may cause death if defective. If a product defect causes a death, the victim’s next-of-kin may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
WHAT TO DO AFTER BEING INJURED FROM A DEFECTIVE PRODUCT
1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention
The first thing you should do after suffering a defective product injury is to promptly seek medical attention, especially if the injury is serious. Examples of major injuries may include:
- Severe cuts or lacerations
- Extensive bleeding
- Illness or vomiting
- Brain injuries
- Temporary blindness or deafness
- Broken bones
It is important to keep in mind that injuries which do not seem serious at first may become serious over time. If the injury is not properly and promptly treated, the injury may worsen. Thus, it is important to consider taking a visit to a doctor or hospital even in cases where the injury seems minor.
2. File A Report or Complaint
After seeking medical treatment, you should be sure to file a formal accident report with the manufacturer or retailer of the defective product. Filing an official report may help your case in several ways. For example, a formal report may contain important details such as when, where, and how the accident occurred. Further, the report may serve as official evidence of your injuries. Finally, the report may put the at-fault party on notice when it comes to fixing their defective products moving forward.
3. Document the Accident
One of the most important steps is to document the accident. Documenting the accident means keeping and maintaining a thorough and organized file which contains every important piece of information relating to the accident and injury. Tracking this information may be helpful in establishing fault against the manufacturer or retailer. Types of documents you should save and collect may include:
- Photographs of your injuries
- Photographs of the defective product
- Purchase receipts
- Copies of the accident report or formal complaint
- Copies of witness statements, if any
- Medical and pharmacy bills
4. Contact an Attorney
Finally, you should contact a personal injury attorney. An attorney may want to speak with you to discuss the details of the accident. After doing so, the attorney may be able to provide legal advice regarding remedies and options. If necessary, an attorney may also begin the process of filing a formal lawsuit against the manufacturer or retailer.
HOW TO FILE A PRODUCT LIABILITY CLAIM
Listed below are the general steps to file a claim:
1. File a Report or Complaint
Though filing a formal report or complaint with the company who sold or manufactured the defective product is not necessary, it may be helpful in building the strength of your case.
2. Contact an Attorney
The next step in the process is to contact a lawyer with experience in product liability cases. An attorney may discuss the facts of your case with you, gather critical evidence, and file the necessary paperwork to initiate a lawsuit.
Learn More: Why Hiring a Lawyer Will Help Your Case
The investigation phase of a claim involves the attorney building your case. For instance, during an investigation, the attorney may review company records or conduct thorough investigations to determine whether the company should be held liable. Investigation may also involve accounting for each of your damages, such as medical bills and lost wages.
4. Settlement and Lawsuit
Prior to a trial, you may have the option of accepting a settlement from the at-fault manufacturer or retailer, or their insurance company. If it is not in your best interests to accept the settlement offer, your case may proceed to trial. At trial, the attorney may advocate on your behalf by showing a judge or jury why the manufacturer or retailer should be held liable for your injuries.
TYPES OF COMPENSATION
The damages, or forms of compensation, that may be awarded to a victim injured by a defective product can be grouped into two distinct categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are those which can be accounted for and quantified. The primary forms of economic damages caused by a defective product may include:
- Medical bills
- Lost income (present and future)
- Loss of earning capacity
- Repairs or replacement of damaged property
- Other out-of-pocket costs
Non-economic damages refer to intangible losses that cannot be quantified. Non-economic damages are subjectively evaluated by a jury in a lawsuit. Types of non-economic damages may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
Learn More: How to Calculate the Value of Case
OUR PRODUCT LIABILITY LAWYERS MAY BE ABLE TO HELP
Our personal injury lawyers have the knowledge and resources necessary to help injury victims get their lives back on track after they have been harmed by a defective product. We may be able to help you build the strongest case possible and seek maximum compensation for all the ways your injury has cost you.
Our firm also believes that an injury victim should never have to worry about their ability to afford excellent legal representation. That is why we offer 100% free consultations, and why you pay nothing unless we secure a favorable settlement, judgment, or verdict for your personal injury case. That's our No Win No Fee Guarantee.
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