What if you could take your product injury all the way to court?
Sometimes, the products we buy aren’t just defective. They may be downright dangerous and cause serious injury.
If this happens, you may have a case worthy of going to court over. But you may never know until you check out our complete guide to product liability lawsuits!
What Does “Product Liability” Mean?
We have put together a comprehensive guide to product liability lawsuits. First, though, it’s important to define what “product liability” actually means.
As the word “liability” indicates, this term means that the company who made the product is responsible for any pain or injury you experienced. There are multiple kinds of liability (see our notes below), so it’s important to review them all to understand if you have a case.
One common element of all such cases is that someone has been injured due to the product. A simple defective or disappointing product does not mean you are owed damages.
Product Liability Lawsuits: Separate or Together
Most of the products we buy are mass-marketed and mass-produced. If you have been injured thanks to some kind of defect, chances are that others have been hurt as well.
If this is the case, you have two different options for filing a suit. You can sue the company on your own behalf or you can be part of a class-action lawsuit that represents all of the affected people.
Class action lawsuits are tempting because the legal costs are lower and you have a built-in support network for your case. However, damages may be split across all eligible recipients, meaning you may receive less than you would if you had filed by yourself.
Different Kinds of Liability
There are many different ways that a company may be liable for your pain and injuries. However, everything generally falls into three different categories of liability.
One such category is warning defects. This means that the company did not provide sufficient instructions or warnings about product use and that this caused your injuries.
A manufacturing defect is the second liability category. This means that the product was made in such a way that its intended use actually put you in danger.
The final category is a design defect. This means that instead of an accidental manufacturing defect, the actual product was designed in such a way that placed consumers at risk.
Standards of Proof
As the plaintiff in a lawsuit, the burden of proof is on you. And there are a few different ways you can help make your case against the company.
First, you must prove the product was defective in some way. Second, you must be able to prove that this defective product was the specific cause of your injury and that you were, in fact, injured.
Finally, you can argue that the company had a duty to sell safe and reliable products. Selling dangerously defective merchandise is a violation of that duty.
Theories of Legal Liability
There are different legal theories under which you could sue over liability. It’s important to pick the one that best represents your particular case.
Negligence is one such theory, and it ties to the company’s duty to sell safe products. You can argue that the company’s sales of defective products show their negligence in this regard.
Strict liability is a legal theory that helps you more directly focus on sellers rather than manufacturers. Even if the original company was not negligent, you can argue another party is strictly liable for your injuries.
Breach of warranty is a pretty straightforward theory. It means that a specific warranty failed and that the failure of this warranty caused your injury.
Settlement vs. Lawsuit
Your lawsuit may end with a settlement instead of judgment. In fact, it may not go to court at all if you receive a settlement. However, it is up to you to accept or reject any settlement offers.
If the company believes you have a compelling case and may win your suit, they may offer a specific amount as a settlement. The idea is that it’s easier for them to pay now than risk paying more later. And it may be worth your while to take the settlement instead of potentially losing your case.
Should you proceed with your case, you will likely seek out different kinds of damages (more on this in a minute). It’s important to make sure a settlement amount accurately reflects factors such as pain, lost wages, medical bills, and so on.
Types of Damages
Earlier, we mentioned that you can seek specific damages as part of your lawsuit. It’s important to understand what kinds of damages are available.
Compensatory damages represent your financial losses. This can include medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and even the loss of future financial opportunities.
Pain and suffering is exactly what it sounds like. You may need a good lawyer to help you determine what amount is correct for these damages.
Loss of consortium is rarer. These damages refer to negative effects that the injury had on your relationship with your spouse.
Finally, there are punitive damages. In rare cases where the defendant acted in an outrageous or outlandish way, a court may levy additional damages as a way of discouraging similar conduct in the future.
Is An Attorney Necessary?
The last question is pretty direct: should you hire an attorney? The answer to this is “yes, right away.”
An attorney can help you determine appropriate damages and also present your case in the best possible light. And their knowledge of the legal system can save you time and money over the duration of your case.
And good attorneys can also help you discover more about product liability lawsuits to help with your own case.
The Next Step
Now you know more about product liability lawsuits. But do you know where to find more awesome legal news?
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