In 46 states, the law dictates that those who make products are completely liable for any defects with them. In some cases, someone who buys a broken item may just need to exchange it at the store. But in other situations, a defective good can have serious physical consequences like injury or death.
Those recently injured because they bought something that harmed them luckily have legal grounds for compensation. Read on to learn the basics of product liability and what legal options are open to you.
The Basics of Product Liability Claims
Those who produce and sell goods have an obligation to ensure their quality. This doesn’t just mean that the object should function as intended. It also means that they need to ensure that the item is safe to use.
If businesses fail to do this and a product injures someone, they may be legally liable.
Injuries are often a result of defective design. Computers or printers that catch on fire are usually made incorrectly, and that results in a safety hazard. In some cases, medical devices or storage products may also be missing safeguards or have hidden defects.
Product liability also applies to those who fail to label their hazardous products. If there’s a risk of electric shock if you leave something plugged in too long, for example, the manufacturer needs a clear warning label. If there isn’t one and someone gets electrocuted, the company will be prone to a product liability suit.
Many plaintiffs in product liability cases are the owners of the malfunctioning item. However, bystanders who suffered injuries can also sue the manufacturer. Basically, anyone who’s been hurt by a poorly-constructed or faulty product has grounds for a lawsuit.
To get compensation, though, victims will need to prove that the manufacturer or seller was at fault. A personal injury lawyer can help prove negligence. You get compensation when your attorney proves that the defendant didn’t take reasonable steps toward making a safe product.
Theories of Liability
There are three general areas of liability:
- Negligence, which means that the defendant neglected to make sure the product was safe by checking it for defects and getting rid of anything dangerous
- Contract or warranty breaches, which mean that the defendant didn’t adhere to the contracts set out when they agreed to manufacture/sell the faulty good
- Strict liability, which means that the product was defective because it’s intrinsically dangerous regardless of what the manufacturer did or didn’t do to ensure its quality
If you were injured by a faulty product, you may be able to figure out which area of liability matters to you. In some cases, you might not be 100% sure.
That’s why it’s best to talk with an attorney about your case before making any decisions. They have a complete understanding of what makes a company liable for a faulty product. They can assess the situation and apply their own understanding of theories of liability to make a sound case.
Class Action Product Liability
In some cases, multiple people will be impacted by a faulty product. This usually happens when a whole batch of defective items goes out. It sometimes happens for strict product liability lawsuits as well because many people bought an inherently dangerous product.
In a class action lawsuit, multiple individuals might file a claim on behalf of a bigger group. They’re called ‘class representatives.’
Everyone in this large group needs to have faced harm because of the same source. This source- the faulty product- needs to have malfunctioned in a similar way across the group.
Winning a class action lawsuit means compensation is divided among everyone involved.
What Are Your Rights?
If you were injured by a faulty product, you have the right to compensation in most cases. After all, it’s more than reasonable to expect that items don’t poison you or set your house on fire. You probably can get damages for:
- Pain and suffering due to bodily injury
- Medical bills related to the accident
- Time lost at work due to injuries
- Temporary or permanent disability
- Property damage after a malfunction
However, in some cases, you might have to fight an uphill legal battle. Companies might try to defend themselves by saying that they did not have a reasonable duty to foresee your injury. They also may claim that you modified the object or used it incorrectly.
They may also say that you have a lack of standing or are trying to sue outside the statute of limitations.
Calling a lawyer can help you prepare for these common defenses. You do have a right to justice in most cases, which means getting money from the company’s insurance policy.
Don’t take these defenses as law and don’t assume that all hope is lost because the company makes an argument that you have no grounds for a lawsuit. You still might.
How Can You Get Compensation?
Gather all the evidence that you have that relates to the case. Take photos of the malfunctioning product even after disaster strikes. Your lawyer can compare them to product photos and videos that show how it’s supposed to work.
You also will want to take photos of your wounds or damaged property. This, along with medical bills or repair bills in the cases of property damage, will clarify what happened because of the faulty item.
An attorney will help you piece together a case based on this evidence and your account of what happened. They also will look into eyewitness accounts and security camera footage if you were in a public area.
At this point, they’ll begin to negotiate with the company’s insurance agent. They’ll talk with them and get you a fair settlement. Once they reach an agreement, you’ll get the compensation that you deserve.
Beyond Legal Assistance for Product Liability Claims
Now that you know the basics of product liability claims, it’s time to get more information about your rights. Contacting an attorney is important for those who want more information about their situation. Until then, though, check out the ‘health’ tab on our home page for tips on getting in shape after an injury.