Defective Product Liability Lawsuits 101
August 1, 2012
“Products liability” is an area of the law that relates to the legal responsibility of manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers to ensure that their products are safe and do not cause harm. Products that are defectively designed, manufactured, or produced as well as products that lack proper warnings or instructions can cause serious injury or even death to consumers. Product liability laws have been established to protect consumers and to allow them to seek compensation when a product injures them. In general, product liability laws provide that any party involved in the design, manufacturing, production, distribution, or sale of a dangerous or defective product may be held legally responsible.
A product liability claim arises when an individual is injured or killed by a dangerous or defective product. Each year, hundreds of thousands of injuries are experienced by adults and children while using consumer products in the home or in the workplace. Many of these injuries are catastrophic resulting in the need for lifelong care and treatment. Often times, these injuries could have been prevented if manufacturers exercised more diligence and precautions while designing, manufacturing, and marketing their products.
Three Theories of Product Liability
Each state has their own laws and statutes that govern the area of product liability and they can vary widely from state to state. Claims are typically based on the legal theories of strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty.
The manufacturer or seller of a product is “strictly liable” for any injuries that result from a defect in the product. This type of claim protects consumers because the question of whether the manufacturer acted “reasonably” in the way it designed the product is not an issue. The only thing that must be proven is that the injury was caused as a result of a defect in the product, which can include design defects, manufacturing defects, insufficient warnings and instructions or a product malfunction.
In addition to strict liability, a person who is injured by a product can also bring a claim for negligence against the manufacturer or seller of a product. In order to prove negligence, you must show that a person or party acted unreasonably in the manner in which they designed, manufactured or sold a product that caused your injury.
The breach of warranty theory is based on contract law, which essentially means there is a contract between the consumer and the seller of a product. There are two types of breach of warranty claims; a breach of express warranty occurs, where a guarantee or warranty that came with the product is not met, resulting in an injury. A breach of implied warranty occurs when a product cannot be used for its implied purpose due to a defect. In any breach of warranty case, you must still prove that this breach directly resulted in the harm that you suffered.
Types of Product Defects
There are two main types of product “defects” that can result in products liability lawsuits.
A claim based on a design defect must prove the product is inherently dangerous and defective based on the way that the product and its warnings or instructions were designed. This type of defect generally involves the entire line of the product and exists before the product is made. A plaintiff needs to prove that an alternative design would have made the product safer. Safer alternative designs can include additional warnings, safety guards, or better instructions that will instruct the user on how to use the product safely.
This type of defect is alleged to occur at some point during the manufacturing process. A claim based on a manufacturing defect alleges that a product may have been designed properly but there was an error in making or assembling the product. This type of defect does not always affect the entire line of the product, with only an isolated few being flawed.
What to Do If a Defective Product Injures You or a Loved One
If a defective or dangerous product has hurt you, first seek medical attention for your injuries. Keep the product, the packaging, labels, and instructions that were included. Keep your receipt and any other related paperwork. Take pictures of your injuries, the accident scene, and the defective product. The more evidence that you have the better chance you have of preparing a solid case. If there were any witnesses, obtain all contact information in the event that their testimony would be needed at a later date. Be aware that all states have a statue of limitations, which puts a deadline on when you can file a claim. Seek guidance from an experienced and knowledgeable products liability lawyer.
Why You Need an Experienced and Knowledgeable Products Liability Lawyer
Product liability lawsuits can be highly technical, very complex, time consuming, and expensive to pursue. When you are seeking to recover compensation for your injuries, a successful claim requires the assistance of an exceptionally credentialed products liability attorney who has the necessary resources to properly evaluate the details of a case and pursue the case to the fullest extent. A skilled litigator must prove that a product was defective, that the consumer used the product in a reasonable manner, that you suffered an injury or loss, and that the injuries sustained were caused by the defect. Expert witnesses that are specialized in the areas of engineering, safety, and design often play a key role in preparing a successful case. Their expertise is required to examine evidence and provide testimony. Laws affecting products liability vary from state to state. Therefore, it is imperative to seek guidance from a products liability attorney who is familiar with the laws in your state.
Seek Legal Assistance from the Philadelphia Products Liability Attorneys at Galfand Berger
The Philadelphia products liability lawyers at Galfand Berger are among the nation’s pioneers in investigating and litigating all types of product liability cases. Over 65 years, Galfand Berger’s attorneys have represented thousands of individuals injured by dangerous products, and have helped shape many of the laws that have required that product manufacturers in Pennsylvania make their products safer for consumers If a dangerous or defective product has injured you or someone you love, let our compassionate and dedicated product liability attorneys help. We can review your case, advise you of your rights, and aggressively pursue your product liability claim to achieve justice on your behalf with the goal of securing the compensation for the injury or loss that you or your family member has experienced. We have helped many of our clients obtain significant settlements. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia, Reading, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Contact the Philadelphia products liability lawyers at Galfand Berger at 1-800-222-8792 to schedule a free and confidential consultation or submit a free online inquiry.