Product liability is an area in law that focuses on defective products that injure their users. Everyone should feel safe to use items in their own homes. But sometimes, this experience can turn so dangerous that it becomes deadly. A person using a product for its intended purpose may be able to sue the product’s designer or manufacturer, and potentially other defendants that make up the product’s chain of distribution including distributors and retailers of the product.
Product liability laws are meant to protect and compensate you for any losses that you may have endured due to this accident. This type of accident can be particularly costly and one of the highest among tort cases. The highest estimated median damage awards are about $350,000, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
At Mike Agruss Law, we have helped thousands of clients to seek justice and compensation for personal injuries, and you won’t owe us a penny for our services unless we win your case. If you or a loved one has been injured from a premises liability accident, contact our office today for a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys.
Examples of Product Liability Cases
Product liability cases essentially cover any accidents that an item you purchased caused. Generally, the standard or law to be followed states that products should meet the ordinary expectations of the consumer. When they do not due to a malfunction or defect, you can take legal action. These are some common product liability cases that can occur:
- Industrial equipment accidents
- Medical device malfunction or defect
- Space heater fires
- Defective carbon monoxide detector
- Food poisoning incidents
- Defective medications
- Automobile design defect
From these accidents, a breadth of injuries is possible. Depending on the conditions, one can suffer bruising and cuts, broken bones, sickness and nausea, disease, drowning, third-degree burns, disfigurement, disability, or even death.
Three Types of Product Liability Cases
Product liability cases can be divided into three types: design defects, manufacturing defects, and marketing defects. Lawsuits based on a product’s defective design argue that the product is inherently dangerous. The product did not suddenly stop “working,” but rather the product is unsafe for use at any time. This can alarm some since this claim could alert and frighten other users of the product, if they hear about the design defect. This is when mass product recalls are needed since the manufacturer will want to avoid the chance at any additional allegations against them. This may be exemplified in a case where a medication helps an illness, but also causes harmful side effects when ingested.
The second type, manufacturing defects, refers to a product that was defectively manufactured or due to an error in the manufacturing process, it is defective. When someone is injured from the malfunction, they may sue the manufacturer for their injuries. An example of this may be if a chair is built defectively and you decide to sit on it, only to have yourself and the seat fall to the ground due to a loose screw in two legs of the chair.
The last type of product liability case is a marketing defect, which often refers to a company’s failure to warn about the proper use of a product or its possible consequences. These cases focus on warning or labeling defects. This is a valid concern, but also consider that it should not be clearly obvious that the product could be harmful. A very famous example of this type of product liability case occurred in 1992 when an elderly woman sued McDonald’s after she spilled a cup of hot coffee on her lap. She alleged that the coffee’s warning of being “hot” was defective and inadequate, for it was “dangerously hot.” She was awarded almost $3 million.
Proving Liability in Product Liability Cases
In a product liability case, a plaintiff’s goal is to establish that the defendant is liable for their injuries. To show this occurred, you should be able to show four elements. First, the plaintiff must be able to show that a duty of care existed between themselves and the defendant. The plaintiff may be the injured individual, a loved one, or other related parties; and the defendant may be the manufacturer, assembler, retailer, or anyone else responsible in the chain of distribution. Next, it should be clear that the defendant breached that duty of care somehow. Then, show that the defendant’s actions or lack thereof caused the plaintiff’s injury and the injury was foreseeable. Lastly, the plaintiff must have suffered actual damages.
The plaintiff could also show that the manufacturer or other members of the product’s chain of distribution, was negligent in at least one of the following areas:
- Designing the product
- Assembly and testing of the product
- Choosing component materials to form their final product
- Failure to recall or warn the public regarding a product that has caused injury already due to defects
- Ineffective warning, label, instructions, or directions of dangers that the average customer would require to properly use the product
Another approach to prove that the defendant is liable would be a strict liability suit. Strict liability is a legal theory that can assign liability to a party despite them not acting with fault or negligence; the manufacturer is simply deemed ultimately responsible for the accident. First, the plaintiff must show that the product was defective when it left the manufacturer. Also, they must show that the defect actually and proximately caused the plaintiff’s injury.
Damages That Can Be Recovered
Illinois has a statute of limitations of two years, meaning that you must file your product liability lawsuit within two years of the date that the product was acquired. follows the legal principle of modified comparative negligence. In these cases, some damages that you can be awarded include the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment in normal life
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death
- Emotional distress
- Punitive damages
If you or a loved one has been injured from a product liability accident, contact our office today for a free consultation.