Companies should never put their profits above your safety. When they do, and something goes wrong, they must be held accountable. At Mike Agruss Law, we have represented thousands of people over decades who were hurt because a product was not made or tested properly. And it is frustrating to see that most, if not all, of these damages could have been easily avoided if companies just took the time to make sure their products are safe.
Our Illinois product liability attorneys know that taking legal action in these cases is not just about getting maximum compensation for your losses, but also about making corporations think twice before cutting corners on safety. If you or someone you know has been affected by a dangerous or defective product, reach out to us today.
When Can You File a Product Liability Lawsuit in Illinois?
You can hold a manufacturer accountable if they are selling (or have sold):
- Defective medical devices (malfunctioning pacemakers, hip implants)
- Out-of-order auto parts (brake failure, non-functioning airbag)
- Contaminated food (E. Coli, salmonella)
- Dangerous prescription drugs (harmful side effects, incorrect labeling)
- Toxic chemicals (lead paint, asbestos)
- Faulty electronics (exploding batteries, electrical fires)
- Unsafe children’s products (choking hazards, toxic materials)
- Unreliable household appliances (busted wiring, gas leaks)
- Flammable clothing (absence of fire-resistant material)
- Broken tools or machinery (damaged safety guards, electrical issues)
Under Illinois personal injury law, you can go after them in three ways:
The legal principle of “negligence” means that the manufacturer failed to do what they should have to guarantee the safety of their product. Maybe they did not test it properly, or maybe the safety instructions they provided to the customers were not clear (or worse, they didn’t provide any instructions at all).
Under this principle, it doesn’t matter if the manufacturer was careful or not. If their product is not operating correctly and as a result injures someone, the company has to compensate the injury victim.
Breach of warranty
Warranties are basically promises made by the manufacturer or seller about the quality, safety, or performance of a product. Breach of warranty occurs when that product does not live up to those promises. If the manufacturer breached the warranty, it could be “express” or “implied”.
For example, you purchased a new smartphone that came with a one-year warranty promising it will be free from any design or manufacturing defects. Two months in, and the phone starts shutting down randomly. If the manufacturer cannot fix it, that’s a breach of the express warranty.
Or, say you bought a new blender with the basic expectation (implied warranty) that it will blend food. If the blades snap off the first time you use it, the whole unit is now unable to perform its basic function. This is a breach of implied warranty.
In all scenarios above, you need to prove three elements to establish your product liability claim:
- The product had a defect
- That defect was there before you even bought it
- The product defect is the reason that caused your injury
If your product liability lawyer wins your case, you could seek compensation to cover hospital and medical expenses, lost wages, and the pain and suffering you went through. In some product liability claims, if the jury determines that the product was unreasonably dangerous, you might get punitive damages as well; this is extra compensation awarded as a punishment for the at-fault party.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Product Liability?
Liability in a damaged or dangerous product as well as product recalls can extend far beyond just the manufacturer. Since each product defect claim is unique, an experienced Illinois product liability lawyer can help you identify all potential defendants responsible for your serious injuries:
The company or individual who manufactured the product is usually the main party held accountable. After all, they are the ones who design and produce the product or appliance, so if something goes wrong during the manufacturing process, they are to blame.
Sometimes, the fault lies in the design of the product rather than its manufacturing. In such cases, the designer of the product can also be held liable. For instance, if a car has any design defects that make it prone to flipping over when turning, the designer could be held responsible for any resulting accidents and injuries.
Distributors and retailers
In Illinois, people responsible for distributing and selling the defective products can also be held liable, but it is less common. As per Illinois product liability law (735 ILCS 5/2-621), a seller may be able to escape liability if they can identify the manufacturer. However, if the manufacturer is insolvent, unreachable, or unknown, the retailer or distributor could be sued for the broken product.
Component part manufacturers
Most consumer products – toys, motor vehicles, sport equipment, household appliances, industrial equipment, gadgets, medical devices – are made up of several parts produced by different manufacturers. If a specific part is substandard and causes injury, the manufacturer of that component can be held liable.
Assemblers or installers
If a product needs to be assembled or installed and is done so incorrectly, the party responsible for that particular job can also be held liable. For example, if you bought a gas stove and it wasn’t installed properly, which resulted in a gas leak, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the installer.
These are the middlemen between the manufacturer and the retailer. If they played a role in bringing any potentially dangerous products to the market, they could also be held liable. However, this is relatively rare in product liability claims.
If a product is manufactured outside the U.S. and imported, the U.S.-based importer may be considered responsible for any design defect, manufacturing defects, or packaging defects under Illinois law.
If a marketing company made false claims or failed to properly warn the customers, they can also be held legally accountable. These cases are unfortunately quite common. For example, Johnson & Johnson was sued for their talcum-based baby powder. They claimed it was safe but did not warn the customers about its potential link to ovarian cancer. The company is still facing product liability lawsuits to this day.
What is the Statute of Limitations on Product Liability in Illinois?
Generally speaking, you have two years from the date of your serious injury to file a product liability lawsuit and obtain compensation. If you were not injured but your property was damaged, you have five years from the date the damage occurred.
If you miss any of these windows, the court will likely dismiss your products liability lawsuit, and you won’t be able to recover any economic damages.
However, you also need to consider the “statute of repose” in these cases. Under Section 13-213, you cannot file a lawsuit more than 12 years after the product was sold or more than 10 years after the date of first possession by the initial user, whichever comes first.
That said, there are exceptions to these statutes. If you were a minor at the time of the injury, the statute of limitations may be extended. Also, if the injury was not discovered right away and couldn’t have been discovered through reasonable diligence, the “discovery rule” might apply. This would start the clock from the date the injury was discovered or should have been discovered.
Injured by a Defective Product? Our Illinois Product Liability Lawyers can Maximize Your Compensation
When you get injured because of the negligence of a profit-driven corporation, you may be entitled to damages. However, Illinois product liability laws are not as straightforward as they may seem. They involve federal regulations, state laws, and sometimes even international laws if the product was manufactured outside the country. Large corporations typically have an army of lawyers who will aggressively fight to protect the company’s interests at any cost and deny your compensation.
At Mike Agruss Law firm, we are a team of personal injury lawyers in Illinois with expertise in consumer rights, product liability laws and personal injury claims in Illinois. With a combined experience of over 100 years, we have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients both outside the court and through litigation.
We will strongly pursue a satisfactory settlement through negotiations, but if your case goes to trial, you want product liability lawyers who have a track record of winning in court – and that’s us. Our reputation also gives us an edge during negotiations because the other side knows we are prepared to fight for you in court. We have the skills, resources, and a history of obtaining favorable verdicts for our clients.
We work on a contingency fee basis. You don’t owe us a penny unless we win your case. To schedule your free consultation and explore your legal options with a knowledgeable product liability attorney, call or text us at 312-300-5996 (local) or 844-SEE-MIKE (toll-free). You can also contact us online. With offices across Illinois, including Chicago, Aurora, Naperville, Elmhurst, Joliet, Oak Brook, Peoria, and Springfield, we are conveniently located to serve you.