What is a Product Liability Case?
Products liability cases are a common form of legal action that allows consumers to hold manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of products responsible for injuries or damages caused by their defective products. These cases can arise from a wide range of products, including but not limited to, automobiles, medical devices, consumer goods, and industrial equipment.
In this article, we will explore the various types of products liability cases, the legal principles involved, and the potential damages that may be recovered.
Types of Products Liability Cases
There are generally three types of products liability cases that can be brought under tort law: design defects, manufacturing defects, and failure to warn defects.
A design defect exists when a product’s design is inherently dangerous, and the product is inherently defective, and thus unreasonably dangerous even if it is manufactured correctly. A design defect claim alleges that the product is dangerous due to its design, which makes it unsafe even when it is used as intended. In other words, a design defect occurs when the product's design poses an inherent risk to the consumer.
For example, suppose a manufacturer designs a child's toy with small, detachable parts that can be swallowed by young children, causing a choking hazard. In that case, a consumer may have a claim for a design defect if their child chokes on one of the toy's small parts.
Manufacturing defects are different from design defects because they occur during the production process. A manufacturing defect is a defect that occurs because of an error in the manufacturing process, resulting in a product that does not conform to the manufacturer's design. In other words, the product is designed correctly, but an error occurred during manufacturing, making it unsafe for consumers.
For example, a car manufacturer may design a vehicle with an airbag system that functions correctly in an accident. Still, during the manufacturing process, a defective airbag is installed that does not inflate as intended during a collision, causing injuries to the driver.
Failure to Warn Defects
A failure to warn defect exists when a product's design is safe, and it was manufactured correctly, but the manufacturer failed to provide adequate warnings or instructions about the safe use of the product. In other words, the product is safe when used correctly, but it becomes dangerous when the consumer does not receive sufficient warnings or instructions.
For example, a drug manufacturer may produce a medication that has potentially harmful side effects when taken with certain other drugs, but the manufacturer fails to warn consumers of these risks, resulting in the consumer taking the drug and suffering harm.
Legal Principles Involved in Product Liability Lawsuits
To prove a products liability case, the plaintiff must show that the product was defective and that this defect caused their injuries or damages. To succeed in a products liability claim, the plaintiff generally must prove three elements:
- That the product was defective
- That the defect caused the injury or damage, and
- That the plaintiff was using the product as intended at the time of the injury or damage.
The plaintiff has the burden of proving each of these elements by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that the plaintiff must show that it is more likely than not that the product was defective, and this defect caused the plaintiff's injuries or damages.
Proving that a product is defective can be challenging, as it requires the plaintiff to show that the product did not perform as intended or was unreasonably dangerous. An experienced personal injury attorney can help the plaintiff gather the necessary evidence and prove that the product was defective.
The plaintiff must also show that the defect caused their injury or damages. In other words, the plaintiff must show that they suffered harm because of the defect, such as physical injuries, property damage, or financial losses.
Finally, the plaintiff must show that they were using the product as intended when the
injury or damage occurred. This means that the plaintiff must show that they were using the product in a reasonably foreseeable way, and not misusing the product in a way that was not intended by the manufacturer.
Potential Damages in Products Liability Cases
If a plaintiff succeeds in a products liability case, they may be entitled to recover damages for the harm they have suffered. The types of damages that may be available in a products liability case can vary depending on the jurisdiction in which the case is brought and the facts of the case. However, some common types of damages that may be recoverable in a products liability case include:
- Medical expenses: This includes the cost of medical treatment, hospital stays, surgeries, and any other medical expenses the plaintiff incurred as a result of the defect.
- Lost wages: If the plaintiff had to miss work because of the injury or damage, they may be entitled to recover compensation for the wages they lost during that time.
- Property damage: This includes the cost of repairing or replacing any property that was damaged as a result of the defect.
- Pain and suffering: This refers to the physical and emotional distress the plaintiff has experienced as a result of the defect, such as pain, discomfort, anxiety, and depression.
- Loss of consortium: If the plaintiff's injuries have affected their relationship with their spouse, they may be entitled to recover damages for the loss of companionship, affection, and support.
- Punitive damages: In some cases, the court may award punitive damages to punish the manufacturer, distributor, or seller of the product for their reckless or intentional conduct.
Although products liability cases can be complex and challenging to prove, but they play an important role in protecting consumers from dangerous and defective products. By holding manufacturers, distributors, and sellers accountable for the harm caused by their defective products, consumers can seek compensation for the damages they have suffered and encourage companies to improve the safety of their products. If you believe you have been injured or suffered damages because of a defective product, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you understand your legal options and work to recover the compensation you deserve.
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If you or a loved one suffered harm using a product, contact Montlick & Associates for a free consultation. Since 1984, Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law, has recovered Billions of dollars in financial compensation for our clients. Our attorneys have the reputation, knowledge, and experience, necessary to provide the exceptional legal service that you deserve. Call us 24/7 at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333) to speak with one of our experienced attorneys.