As consumers in the US, when we purchase a product and bring it home, it is reasonable to expect the product will perform as intended and do us no harm. Due to less stringent trade policies, the safety of products in this country has been compromised in many cases. A defect in design or manufacturing or a lack of warning in regards to possible dangers can be viewed as product liability and brought to court.
Product liability laws vary from state to state but generally favor the consumer. Manufacturers place warning labels on packages in an attempt to reduce the amount of liability the company may assume. However, if you have been injured by using or consuming a product you do not have to prove that a manufacturer was negligent. You must only prove that the product was the cause of your injury. This is referred to as strict liability.
Strict liability defects are categorized as three types:
- Manufacturing Defect – This applies to a product that was well designed but manufactured in a way that makes it unsafe. It could be a result of using substandard material, faulty or unspecified parts.
- Design Defect – The general overall design was unsafe leading to an entire line of unsafe products. This can be the product itself or the packaging. For example, a sharp blade not protected within the package causing injury when being opened. The toy industry has made the news repeatedly each year due to unsafe designs that can harm children.
- Insufficient Warnings – The product may be free of any defects or design flaws but there were incomplete or nonexistent operating instructions or warnings to alert the consumer of possible hazards.
The courts have generally seen strict liability as something worked into the cost of a product, which is factored in by manufacturers, suppliers and retailers. All of these entities can be the responsible party in a product liability case. Although the laws for product liability may sound cut and dried, they are really quite complex. Anyone who feels that they have a product liability case should contact a personal injury attorney who has experience with this type of case.
The types of damages that may be awarded in product liability cases may include compensatory damages for:
- Medical Bills – Medical bills both past and future including the emergency room, hospital stays, medical specialists, transportation to and from medical facilities, rehabilitation and physical therapy.
- Property Damage – Any damage caused by a product to personal property.
- Loss of income – Lost time at work, inability to perform ones occupation, retraining for a new occupation, loss of lifetime income for being forced into a lower paying occupation.
Aside from compensatory damages, a plaintiff in a product liability case may be awarded damages for pain and suffering due to the injury. The spouse may claim loss of consortium even if he or she was not personally injured, for the negative affect the injury had on the wellness of the relationship. In addition, if the courts wish to punish the defendant to ensure that there will be no repeat of the neglect, they may also issue punitive damages.
The Foundation for a Solid Product Liability Case
The manufacturer, supplier and retailer may each be responsible for the injury caused by a particular product. If a manufacturer warns the supplier and in turn the supplier warns the retailer and the warnings are ignored, your product liability lawyer may decide to hold all three responsible for your injury or property damage.
To be successful in a product liability case you must present your attorney with the product, proof of where it was purchased and any instructions and directions that were included with the product. In addition you should have a record of all medical attention you received, property damage receipts as well as any details describing when, where and how the accident occurred. Also the names and contact information of any witnesses. When it comes to a product liability suit there is no such thing as too much information.
Your product liability attorney will provide expert witnesses, product history, medical experts and conduct a thorough investigation into the all facts leading up to and following the accident. A personal injury lawyer is invaluable in these cases.
Dolman Law Group is a Florida personal injury law firm with extensive experience in product liability. Call (727) 853-6275 today for a free evaluation of your case.
Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652