Product liability lawsuits usually involve injuries that are the result of a product that is defective in some way. These are considered complex lawsuits requiring special knowledge and experience. Occasionally, product liability cases are filed as a class action lawsuit, if there were many people who were affected or injured by the product. In some cases, even if the injured party purchased the product “used” or on the grey market, they may have the right to sue. Many states have special time limits for filing a product liability lawsuit that are geared to the date of original manufacture, not necessarily the date of injury. These are called “statutes of repose”. Hence, it is vitally important that you contact an attorney with special experience as soon as possible following an injury inflicted by a dangerous product.
What Has to be Proven in a Product Liability Case?
Product liability lawsuits fall under three categories, which include breach of warranty, strict liability and negligence. There are also certain elements that a plaintiff has the burden to prove in order to successfully bring about a product liability claim, which includes:
- Defect: The plaintiff has to prove that the product they received was defective at the time it left the hands of the manufacturer.
- Causation: The plaintiff has to prove that the defect of the product is what caused their injury.
- Injury: The plaintiff has to be injured because of the defect in the product.
- Duty: The manufacturer or seller owed a duty to the injured plaintiff to sell or make a product that was safe when used under foreseeable circumstances.
Theories to Bring About a Product Liability Lawsuit
There are three different theories a plaintiff can use to bring about a product liability lawsuit, which include:
- Negligence: The plaintiff has to prove that the seller or the manufacturer owed a duty to provide a product that was safe; the seller or manufacturer breached the duty by failing to exercise due care, and the breach was the result of the plaintiff’s injury.
- Strict Liability: With this theory, the plaintiff will bring about a products liability claim to any dangerous or unsafe product, regardless of if the seller or manufacturer was negligent. The injured party must prove the product is defective due to either design or manufacture and as a result, the product is unreasonably dangerous.
- Breach of Warranty: Warranties can be either express or implied. Express warranties are those specifically given by the seller or manufacturer that a product will perform in a specific way. Implied warranties generally arise when a product fails to perform as the manufacturer intended, even if there is no specific warranty given at the time of sale.
Types of Product Liability Cases
There are three basic types of product liability cases, these include the following:
- Design defect: Results from a defect in the design or specifications of the product.
- Manufacturing defect: The defect resulted from the manufacturing or assembly process.
- Warning defects: There were not adequate warning labels or instructions with the product to prevent the injury.
Preparing for a Product Liability Claim
If you have ready the above information and spoke with an attorney, and you believe you have a product liability case, you will need to save the product in the condition in which it existed at the time of the injury. Do not clean it, repair it or use it. Packaging, instructions and any manuals are also important. On rare occasions, a product liability case can be pursued even without the product, but it is more difficult. This is all evidence that can be used in your case. Also keep any receipts related to the product that caused the injury.
If you have been injured because of a defective product, make sure to speak with an attorney who has experience with these types of cases. They will be able to help you recover the compensation you deserve.