A defective product may cause you to sustain a personal injury, illness, or even wrongful death.
If you or your loved one gets hurt because of a manufacturing defect, a product liability lawyer can assist you in pursuing a product liability claim. This type of claim is distinct from motor vehicle accidents and other similar situations because you are not required to prove the manufacturer’s negligence.
We’ll cover general topics related to product liability as well as specific laws pertinent to the State of California.
Types of Product Liability Lawsuits
There are three main types of product liability lawsuits you can file against a manufacturer of a product or drug:
1. Defective Manufacturing
The first type of product liability lawsuit covers products that do not function properly because of defective manufacturing. The manufacturing error may have occurred in the factory during the actual production of the item. Alternatively, a mistake in handling or delivery could have occurred at any point between the factory and the location where the product was sold or used.
2. Defective Design
The second type of product liability lawsuit concerns products that are defective in terms of design. Even if it was properly manufactured, the product might still be considered hazardous if it was designed in an inferior or illogical way. Defective design cases usually involve not just a single product but a whole line of products that are considered harmful to users because of their faulty design or formulation.
3. Lack of Warnings or Instructions
The third type of product liability lawsuit is associated with the failure of the manufacturer to include proper instructions or warnings related to the use of the product. It is related to the company’s total or partial lack of information about the potential risks and side effects that a person may experience because of the short-term or long-term use of the product or drug.
A lawyer can recommend which type of product liability lawsuit you should file based on what kind of product is involved and how you got hurt because of the product.
How Do I Know if I Have Purchased or Used a Defective Product?
You have bought or used a defective product if you or your loved one experienced a personal injury, sickness, or wrongful death because of a lack of product safety. These are the factors involved in product liability cases related to defective cars, malfunctioning medical devices, and other dangerous products:
1. Breach of Warranty
Breach of warranty is when a product has failed to perform according to warranty claims. The manufacturer may be liable if it has directly stated or indirectly implied that a product functions in a certain way, yet it does not work as advertised.
You could claim that a manufacturer exhibited negligence if you sustained an injury because the company was not careful in one or more of the aspects of creating or selling the product. These aspects may include designing, manufacturing, handling, delivering, and including the necessary instructions, labels, or warnings.
3. Strict Liability
Since it is not easy to prove that a product was carelessly designed or manufactured, you have the option of using the strict liability theory. The strict liability principle concentrates on the inherent risk of the product, so you will need to establish the following:
- The manufacturer, supplier, or retailer is in the business of selling the product involved
- The product caused harm to you because it is defective in terms of design, production, or lack of warnings
- The product has not been modified in any way from the time it was sold
Under the strict liability theory, you do not need to prove that you are aware that the product was risky because it was malfunctioning or dangerous.
Understanding California Products Liability Law
The California Products Liability Law determines the liability of a company or person in causing your personal injury because of a defective product. According to this law, the organization that designed, manufactured, or sold a faulty product is strictly liable for the injuries or illnesses brought about by the use of the product, even if the entity did not exhibit negligence.
In California, strict liability may be imposed for the three classifications of defects: manufacturing defects, design defects, and warning defects. The individual or entity may be required to provide recoverable damages to you if you successfully establish strict liability with the aid of an attorney.
What Damages Can I Recover?
A product liability attorney can make it possible for you to recover damages in a product liability lawsuit. Damages refer to an amount of money meant to compensate you for any losses related to the injury or sickness caused by the defective product. Here are the main categories of damages:
1. Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages, also known as actual damages, are meant to compensate you for the injury or illness brought about by the use of the product. Its purpose is to restore you and your health to your normal condition before getting hurt or sick.
The total damages are computed by associating a certain monetary value for each unpleasant consequence you experienced because of the defective product.
Economic losses describe the financial resources or properties you lost because of your injury or sickness. These losses are also called special damages or monetary losses. Here are a few examples of economic losses:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of professional wages or business profits
- Disability expenses
- Loss or reparation of property
Non-economic losses aim to provide you with compensation for the facets of your injury or illness that cannot be directly computed, including physical pain, emotional struggles, and mental trauma. These losses are also called general damages or non-monetary losses. Here are some examples of non-economic losses:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium or society
2. Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are designed as punishment for the wrongful conduct of the manufacturer in designing or producing a defective product that has caused you to become harmed physically, emotionally, or mentally.
Both compensatory and punitive damages may be awarded to you in court by the judge or jury’s verdict. These damages may also come in the form of a personal injury settlement.
What Does a Product Liability Lawyer Do?
A product liability lawyer is a personal injury attorney specializing in product liability cases. Product liability attorneys have two main roles:
1. To prosecute individuals and entities who have manufactured a faulty product that has caused you or your family members to become injured or sick
2. To defend you if you or your business has been accused of manufacturing a product that has caused injury or illness to others
After evaluating your case during your initial consultation, a product liability lawyer can recommend if you should file a lawsuit or settle the matter out of court.
When Can You Sue for Product Liability?
You can sue a person or company for product liability within the timeframe determined by the statute of limitations. This law applies particularly to product liability claims involving defective or dangerous products.
Since each state in the U.S. has its own statute of limitations, the length of time may differ from state to state. You need to research the specific terms of the statute in your state of residence to find out how much time you have remaining to file a lawsuit.
Keep in mind that the beginning of the time limit may vary based on state law. While it starts on the date of the injury in certain states, the period begins on the date the cause of injury or illness was discovered in other states.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Product Liability Case?
Entities who may be held liable in your product liability case include the manufacturer, supplier, or retailer of a consumer product, drug, or medical device. These are some examples of potential defendants in a product liability case:
- Car manufacturer of an SUV with defective brakes that led to your vehicular accident
- Appliance company that manufactures a faulty kitchen appliance that caused a fire in your home
- A pharmaceutical corporation that creates prescribed drugs with side effects that are harmful to your health (unless you willingly took the drugs despite your doctor’s warning since you believed it was worth the risk to do so)
- Medical equipment company that manufactured a defective respirator which led to the worsening health condition or untimely death of your family member
- Security system manufacturer who designed a home burglar alarm that did not set off properly when intruders broke into your house
Sickness or injury caused by a defective product can cause you and your family significant pain and suffering. Whether you are planning to file a lawsuit or settle outside of court, a liability lawyer from the Law Office of John J. Perlstein can help you reach your goal. Our law firm focuses on product liability cases and other personal injury claims, so we have the experience and knowledge required to handle your case.
Call us at (213) 252-1070 or schedule a free consultation on our website today to receive expert legal assistance from our product liability attorneys.