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Georgia Products Liability Frequently Asked Questions

September 23, 2010

Injuries From Products: The news is full of reports of people seriously injured by dangerous and defective products from children’s toys covered in lead based paint, to drugs with dangerous side effects, to vehicles that are prone to sudden unintended acceleration or rolling over. These defective products can lead to catastrophic injuries including traumatic brain injuries, spinal chord injuries, paralysis, and even fatalities.

At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we have been representing Georgia residents injured by defective products for over 37 years. If you or someone you love is seriously injured or killed by a defective product, call the experienced attorneys at Montlick and Associates for a free consultation. We believe that consumers need to have as much information about their rights as possible, and have provided answers to some frequently asked questions about Georgia products liability law below:

What does “products liability” mean?

Products liability is literally the area of law that addresses injuries caused by dangerous and defective products. These type of legal claims can be pursued against anyone in the chain of production or distribution, such as, a manufacturer, distributor or seller who fails to make its product reasonably safe or anticipate injuries that may result from the foreseeable uses of its product.

Who is responsible for injuries caused by a defective product?

Basically, any entity in the production or distribution chain may be liable for injuries caused by a defective product. The manufacturer of the product may be liable for failure to safely design or manufacture the product or provide adequate instructions or warnings. Depending on the particular facts of the case, a distributor or seller of the product may also be liable for injuries to consumers who are injured by a product. If changes or repairs are made to the product, the entity that made the changes may also be held responsible.

How hard is it to pursue a case against a product manufacturer?

Many companies have enormous financial resources and will spare no expense to defend against a product liability case. The company may be motivated by concern about the legal liability that it might have for future parties injured by its product, if it settles a case now. On the other hand, sometimes these cases are settled with a "confidentiality agreement," because the responsbile company does not want anyone else to know that it has paid a claim. "Strict liability" applies in some cases meaning, that all that must be proven in that situation is that the product caused ones injuries, regardless of the care that the manufacturer took to make the product safe. It is important in all such cases to have an experienced product liability law firm with the appropriate expertise and resources on your side.

What damages are available in a products liability case?

The types of damages that can typically may be recovered in a products liability lawsuit may include all medical expenses, pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, lost wages and burial expenses. If your future earning capacity has been damaged, you may also recover for future lost earnings. Family members including a spouse, children or in some cases parents may also be able to recover for loss of your services and companionship. Additionally, punitive damages may also be available in certain cases to punish wrongful conduct and discourage companies from treating dangerous defects leading to liability as a cost of doing business.

What legal theories may form the basis for a products liability case?

Liability in a products liability cases may be based on three distinct theories of liability:

Negligence: A negligence claim is based on the failure of the manufacturer to use reasonable care in the design, manufacturer, or selling of its product. The focus is on the conduct of the company that made or sold the product.

Strict Liability: This theory does not require any “fault” in the conduct of the company that made or sold the product. All that must be shown is that a defect in the product made it unreasonably dangerous. The focus is on the danger presented by the defect in the product regardless of the conduct of the company in making or selling the product.

Breach of Warranty: A breach of warranty may be based on either an express or implied warranty. A company has an obligation to make sure that a product performs according to a company’s own representations regarding the product. If the product does not perform according to the terms of the warranty, whether express or implied, this failure can be the basis for liability.

What must be proven to establish a claim for products liability?

A products liability claim essentially involves three elements: (1) a product that is defective or not reasonably safe, taking into account its foreseeable use; (2) the defect existed when the product was still under the company’s control; and (3) the product’s defect must have been the proximate cause of ones injuries (proximate cause basically means that the defect was the actual cause of the injury and that the risk was reasonably foreseeable).

What type of product may be the basis for a product liability claim?

Virtually any defective product may be the basis for a product liability claim. Here are just a few examples:

  • Automobiles, SUVs, ATVs, motorcycles, trucks or other vehicles
  • Defective drugs with dangerous side effects
  • Children’s toys including those with lead based paint
  • Industrial machinery and household equipment
  • Food products
  • Construction equipment and tools

What should I do if I am injured by a product that I believe may be defective?

If you are injured by a defective product, the first thing you should do is seek immediate medical treatment and disclose all symptoms to your doctor. You should also try to preserve the product so that it is not altered or changed in any way after the accident. The sooner you consult with a qualified Georgia product liability lawyer, the greater the probability of maximizing the result in your case. You should promptly consult an attorney so that your attorney and the attorney’s industry experts can begin investigating to determine what the product defect was that caused your injuries.

Does the fact that the product had a disclaimer mean I cannot pursue a claim for compensation?

A disclaimer does not necessarily protect a company from liability for injuries caused by a product. If the use of the product that resulted in the injury was reasonably foreseeable, or it was foreseeable that the product would be used by inexperienced consumers, the company may be liable for resulting injuries regardless of any disclaimers.

Is the failure to warn of a product’s potential dangers a basis for a product liability lawsuit?

The company that produces a product has the duty to warn consumers of latent dangers that may not be obvious in the normal or reasonably foreseeable uses of the product. The duty is imposed because the company that produces or sells the product is in a better position to be aware of potential risks associated with the product that would not be immediately apparent to consumers.

May I still bring a product liability claim even if the product is quite old?

It depends on the type of product. If the product is of a type that it is reasonable to expect would have a long useful life, the producer has a continuing obligation to provide a safe product and provide adequate warnings and instructions. If the product is something like an automobile that continues to have parts made for it for many years, it is reasonable to assume that liability may be imposed despite the product being quite old.

Do changes I made to the product prevent me from bringing a claim?

It depends on how much you altered the product and whether the alterations contributed to your injuries. In some cases, alterations may impact your ability to recover or limit the amount of your recovery.

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At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we understand the emotional toll and life altering impact that serious injuries can have on you and your family. If you or someone you loved have been injured, contact the experienced product attorneys at Montlick and Associates for your free initial consultation. Call 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or complete our free case evaluation form at Montlick & Associates has been helping those injured by defective products in the Atlanta area and throughout Georgia and the SouthEast for over 37 years including the cities of Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller and rural towns in the area.Montlick & Associates: Caring, Dedication, Experience, Results!

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.