If you suffered an injury caused by a defective product, chances are others also have. Thankfully, you have legal options allowing you to seek compensation for your losses. However, as the plaintiff, you must prove the defendant’s negligence, and product liability cases can be complex and challenging. Therefore, the first step in getting your life back on track is contacting a product liability lawyer for answers to your questions and guidance on the legal options available.
What Is Product Liability?
Product liability is a type of personal injury law designed to hold any involved party responsible for the distribution of a faulty product that causes physical or psychological harm to consumers. With the help of a product liability lawyer, a victim can file a lawsuit claiming damages related to injuries caused by the product. However, these cases can quickly become challenging to navigate, especially for those without legal experience in personal injury and product liability.
Basis of Product Liability Cases
The first question to consider is whether or not your case qualifies for a product liability lawsuit. There are three fundamental ways in which a defective product can cause harm to consumers:
- Through a design defect. Mistakes made during the design process can make a product unsafe regardless of the manufacturing quality and careful distribution process.
- Through a manufacturing defect. Products with a safe design can still become defective if not manufactured correctly. For example, negligence can appear in the product’s construction or contamination during the assembly process.
- Through a failure to provide a proper warning. Distributors are responsible for placing warning labels on products with potential risks, allowing consumers to make an educated decision about using the product.
If you purchase a product, use it exactly as the printed instructions portray, and suffer an injury, a product liability lawyer can help you determine the potential for recovering damages in your case.
Who Is Liable in a Defective Product Case?
Products pass through many hands before hitting the market. Multiple parties could be responsible for a defective product at any stage in production and distribution. A few examples of possible defendants in a product liability case include:
- The product designer and manufacturer
- The product wholesaler
- The product distributor
- The retailer selling the product to the public
In most product liability cases, the defendant is a business or corporation with extensive resources, including expert legal representatives, available to handle product liability cases. When faced with a well-equipped defendant, you need a law firm with experienced product liability lawyers to help you build your case and prepare for a possible trial.
Types of Product Liability
Product liability lawyers determine the potential for recovering damages on a case-by-case basis. However, some common cases they handle involve medical devices, over-the-counter and prescription medications, heavy machinery, and automotive parts. In addition, any consumer product that harms the buyer can qualify for a liability lawsuit. For example, cosmetics, household items, and food industries commonly experience product recalls, which unfortunately often occur after already causing harm.
What Kind of Compensation Can You Get for a Product Liability Case?
Personal injury law refers to the monetary award paid to a claimant in a product liability case as damages. The types of recoverable damages available are situational, meaning they vary from case to case. However, there are two comprehensive categories of damages: compensatory and punitive. Additionally, compensatory damages, which encompass the financial and psychological losses associated with your injury, further divide into economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are specific and have tangible evidence to support a claim. For example, these are the financial losses associated with your injuries:
- Lost income. If your injuries cause you to miss work, you can claim lost wages, including current and future lost income, as well as loss of earning capacity if your injuries result in disability.
- Cost of medical expenses. You can recover the cost of bills you collect for treatments you received for your injuries. This includes hospital stays, doctor and specialist visits, prescriptions, rehabilitative visits, use of medical devices, and emergency medical costs. Of course, any ongoing medical expenses would be covered as well.
- Cost of damaged property. If the defective product damaged or destroyed property, you would also include that in your claim. For example, a bad tire could cause a blowout, resulting in a wreck and leading to a damaged vehicle.
- Out-of-pocket expenses. Any costs associated with your injuries are potentially recoverable. Examples include transportation for medical visits, childcare if you were the primary provider, and any paid assistance needed to manage daily tasks.
A significant advantage of hiring a product liability lawyer is their ability to identify economic damages. In addition, they will collect the necessary paperwork to prove your claim, including medical bills, pay stubs, tax information, and other appropriate receipts.
The psychological effects of your injuries have no absolute monetary value, but the court recognizes these losses and allows financial compensation for them. Examples include:
- The pain and suffering caused by physical injuries
- Mental and emotional distresses as a result of anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder
- Loss of the ability to find joy in life as you did before your injury
- Disability or disfigurement
Suppose you lost a loved one from a defective product accident. In that case, you can also sue for the cost of funeral and burial expenses as well as other non-economic losses, such as loss of companionship, loss of inheritance and benefits, loss of nurturing provided by the deceased, and loss of consortium. A product liability attorney has experience assigning acceptable monetary value to non-economic losses.
Punitive damages in a product liability case can be substantial, particularly if the defendant is a large corporation or if you have multiple defendants in your case. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant if their misconduct displayed egregious behavior or gross negligence, a concept more severe than simple negligence. Additionally, every state manages punitive damages differently. For example, in Utah, the amount of punitive damages awarded depends on the defendant’s misconduct and financial assets, as well as the extent of the victim’s injuries.
How Does the Legal Process Work in a Product Liability Case?
In the aftermath of a personal injury, the damages can compile quickly, leaving victims wondering how they will pay the bills and get their lives back on track. Additionally, victims are responsible for taking steps toward compensation, and those steps are sometimes challenging and riddled with requests for evidence, both to support claims of injury and negligence.
A simplified explanation of the process from beginning to end includes these actions:
- You have an initial consultation with a product liability lawyer to discuss the product and how it caused your injuries.
- The legal team will analyze the details of your case and your potential to receive an award or settlement.
- The legal team will then decide whether or not to investigate your accident further and take you on as a client.
- Should they decide to take your case, they will ask you to sign a contract that lays out the details of your relationship. Remember that most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only receive a payment if they can secure a settlement or award for you. Should they decide to represent you, it means they have confidence in a favorable outcome for both of you.
- They will likely ask you to share your medical records next to start establishing a foundation of evidence supporting your compensation claim.
- They will also thoroughly investigate the product, the incident that caused your injury, and all relevant parties involved to collect more evidence. They will likely use experts to help strengthen your argument.
- With evidence prepared, negotiations can begin. Ideally, you will have substantial evidence to support your claim and encourage the defendant to settle.
- Should they fail to offer a fair settlement, your attorney may advise you to file a lawsuit and start preparing the paperwork for you.
Large companies tend to favor settling over allowing the case to go to trial. A trial can cause significant damage to a company’s reputation and lead to substantial financial losses. Most prefer to end the case swiftly before it becomes too public, and an experienced attorney knows how to build a case that will persuade them to settle fairly.
When Should You Schedule a Consultation With a Product Liability Lawyer?
Product liability lawyers typically offer a free consultation and often work on contingency, which means you have nothing to lose and everything to gain from scheduling a case evaluation. At Siegfried and Jensen, we can answer your questions and help you make the correct move, protecting your rights and chance for compensation throughout the process. We ensure everyone treats you fairly and will fight with a tenacious effort to secure a fair and fast settlement. We build your case from the ground up, including collecting medical records and expert testimonies to support your claim. Contact Siegfried and Jensen today for your free case evaluation if you or a loved one suffered harm because of a defective product. We offer answers with no pressure.