Despite consumer protection laws designed to safeguard the public, thousands of people are injured in the U.S. every year by dangerous products on the market. Individuals get hurt when manufactures place profit over safety. If you or your loved one has been injured by a dangerous product, contact the law firm of Hanson & Mouri in Riverside County, CA today. You may have a product liability claim for compensation.
Product liability is the legal liability a manufacturer or distributor incurs for producing or selling a defective product. The term refers to liability of any or all parties along the chain of manufacture of a product for damage caused by that product. Products that contain inherent defects that cause harm to consumers are the subject of product liability claims.
In Southern California, product liability lawsuits can be based on either of two main legal theories – negligence and strict liability.
A product liability civil action brought on the grounds of negligence requires the injured party to prove negligence of the defendant in the creation or manufacture of the product. Negligence can be defined as any failure to act that causes the individual or entity to breach its duties of care to consumers. The company may have been negligent in any of various areas, such as manufacturing regulations, safety protocols, or training procedures, which resulted in defective consumer products.
Under strict liability laws, an injured party can sue for damages without proving the manufacturer’s negligence. The defendant will be liable for damages caused by the defective product, regardless of negligence, if the product has one of the three main product defects.
The three main types of product defects are:
Defective products can cause any injury and may range from mild to catastrophic. Some of the most common that occur and are grounds for a claim include:
Especially common among children and are sometimes fatal. Many toys have small parts that can easily break off, and if a child sticks a small part in their mouth, they can choke. Many of these injuries or deaths are due to toys not having warning labels that they are a choking hazard and only for children of a certain age.
Defective household appliances, like hairdryers, curling irons, or toasters, can have faulty wiring, increasing the risk of them bursting into flames or causing electric shock. A severe burn can be excruciating and may cause infection, disfigurement, and other complications.
Drug companies negligently rush drugs to market before receiving safety approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which can cause severe temporary or permanent physical harm to consumers, such as cardiac arrest, heart liver, or kidney failure, lung problems, brain damage, or wrongful death.
Any product that unexpectedly breaks can cause severe bone fractures. For example, a fall from a faulty ladder, a child falling from a defective high chair, a poorly manufactured bookcase falling onto someone, etc. Broken bones can be incredibly painful and may require surgery and a lengthy recovery.
Medical devices, such as surgical mesh, pacemakers, and hip replacements, can malfunction or fail and cause far more debilitating injuries than the condition they were intended to cure. Patients may experience internal damage and tremendous pain. They may be forced to go through multiple surgical procedures to repair or replace a defective device.
Other severe injuries suffered by defective products consumers include strangulation, poisoning, traumatic brain injury, neck and back injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, loss of vision or hearing, loss of limbs or digits, and coma. However, no matter the type or severity, your injury may entitle you to compensation when a defective product is involved.
The following products are commonly involved in product liability lawsuits. However, any product has the potential to be dangerous if it is defective.
What you must prove in a product liability case to hold a defendant (at-fault party) legally liable can vary depending on the legal theory used as the basis of the lawsuit. While you must have convincing evidence of the defendant’s (at-fault party’s) fault and that you used the product as intended, you may or may not have to prove negligence was involved.
In a claim based on strict liability, a victim can hold a manufacturer liable for injuries and damages caused by a defective product regardless of whether the manufacturer knew or should have known that the product was unsafe. The elements you must prove are:
In other words, you do not need to establish any specific act of negligence on their part, but that the item contained a design, manufacturing, or marketing defect and that this is what caused your injuries.
Proving a product was defective is typically the most challenging element to a product liability lawsuit. It can be easier if you are claiming that a single product was flawed due to an error when it was created rather than that the product’s design is what made it defective. If you are claiming the product, in general, is inherently dangerous due to its design, then the evidence can be harder to come by, and you must be able to demonstrate the design flaw made it unreasonably dangerous.
An unreasonably dangerous product poses more significant risks than an ordinary consumer would reasonably expect when using the product as intended. This definition makes a distinction between products that can normally be dangerous—such as chainsaws, firearms, or knives—and those that pose threats beyond their intended purpose.
Claims can also be brought based on a breach of warranty. You or your attorney must prove the manufacturer or distributor failed to comply with a written or implied warranty that the product is safe for use and free from defects or failed to provide adequate warning labels.
A product liability claim based on negligence requires establishing that a manufacturer failed to exercise reasonable care and make a safe product that does not put consumers in unreasonable danger. Evidence must demonstrate the following four elements:
However, most product liability cases rely on strict liability because it is generally easier to prove than negligence.
When a dangerous, defective product causes harm or wrongful death to consumers, the manufacturer and/or seller of the product should be held liable. In some product liability claims, it may be up to the manufacturer to prove that it was not negligent in producing the defective product. In strict product liability cases, it is only necessary to prove that the product was defective, not that the manufacturer or seller was negligent.
Damages for injuries related to defective products generally fall into the following three categories:
This includes the costs for any hospital stays, surgeries, doctor’s visits, physical and occupational therapy, medication, medical equipment, ongoing treatment, etc.
Any income lost due to missing work because of your injuries and compensation for potential income or benefits you will lose in the future. For instance, if your injury requires that you work fewer hours or in a job with lower pay than the position you had before the incident.
Compensation for the pain caused by your injuries, as well as for any resulting psychological conditions, and the loss of the ability to participate in and enjoy activities that you used to engage in.
There is a limited amount of time to pursue a product liability lawsuit in Riverside, as defined by California’s statute of limitations. After a defective product injury, you only have two years to file suit under Section 335.1 of California’s Code of Civil Procedures (CCCP).
Manufacturers and sellers of dangerous products should be held accountable for the harm their products cause. If you have been injured by a defective product in Southern California, call the Riverside personal injury lawyers of the law firm of Hanson & Mouri as soon as possible to schedule a free consultation. Our legal team of Riverside accident lawyers can tell you if you have a defective product case and what damages you may be entitled to claim.