If you have been injured by a defective product, it is likely that you have many questions about what you should do next and what your legal rights include.
To help, our Savannah product liability lawyers have provided answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding product liability. If you would like additional information or have more questions that were not answered here, contact Roden Law today to schedule a free consultation. We will review the details of your situation to help you determine if you have a case and are entitled to compensation. Because we work on contingency, we do not get paid unless we recover compensation for you.
What Is Product Liability?
Product liability encompasses the legal rules regarding who is responsible for a defective or dangerous product.
Companies have a legal responsibility to create and produce products that are safe and meet the ordinary expectations of consumers. When they do not do this and a product is defective or dangerous, the manufacturer, or others within the distribution process, can be held liable. This gives consumers the right to file a lawsuit in pursuit of compensation for the injuries and damages they have suffered because of the product.
This applies to all types of products, including:
- Prescription medications
- Medical devices
- Children’s toys
- Vehicle parts
- Sporting gear
- Machinery and equipment
When Is a Product Defective?
There are three general categories of product defects:
- Design defect – This type of defect existed in the product from the moment it was designed, before it was produced and manufactured for sale. This defect exists despite the product being manufactured correctly. Every product like the one that caused you harm will have the same defect.
- Manufacturing defect – A mistake, unintentional flaw or abnormal condition in the manufacturing process can cause a product to be more dangerous than if it were assembled or produced the way it was designed to be. This is known as a manufacturing defect, which may not be present in every product.
- Failure to warn – A product can also be defective if it does not have clear, easy-to-understand instructions about how to properly and safely use it or if it lacks adequate warnings about the potential hazards that could occur when the product is used.
Product defects are not always obvious and easy to identify. Because it is difficult for most consumers to determine if their injuries were caused by a defective product, you should always contact a product liability lawyer who can thoroughly analyze the situation and determine if you have a case. We know what it takes for a product to be defective, and we have access to professionals and experts who can further study the product to determine any defects.
Who Is Liable for a Defective Product?
There are several parties that could potentially be held liable for a defective product depending on the circumstances of the case. This may include anyone in the distribution chain of the product, such as the:
- Product designer
- Product manufacturer
- Manufacturer of a component or part of the product
An experienced lawyer will thoroughly investigate your situation to identify all parties that could be held liable for your injuries.
Can I Sue for a Defective Product?
If a defective product causes harm to a consumer, then the product designer, manufacturer, seller or another party can potentially be held liable for the resulting injuries and damages.
In these situations, the injury victim may be able to file a product liability lawsuit based on one of the following legal doctrines:
Product liability claims involving negligence focus on the conduct of the product’s maker. This requires showing that the at-fault party failed to use reasonable care when designing, manufacturing, packaging or selling the product. These actions, or inactions, must have caused your injury in order to claim negligence.
Cases based on strict liability focus on the product itself. This requires proof that the product was unreasonably dangerous and was the cause of your injury. Most product liability cases are based on strict liability, as this type of case does not require proof of fault or negligence. A strict liability case can be filed even if the at-fault party acted with due care and took every reasonable precaution to ensure the product was safe.
To pursue a product liability claim based on strict liability, you must be able to show proof that the product that caused you harm was defective. This requires proving four things:
- The product was defective and unreasonably dangerous.
- The product’s defect was the proximate (direct) cause of the injury.
- The product was in the same, or very similar, condition as when it left the control of the manufacturer, which means the defect existed when it left control of the manufacturer.
- The product was used as intended at the time of the injury.
Breach of Warranty
Breach of warranty cases focus on the promises made by the manufacturer about the product. These promises can be specifically expressed by the manufacturer through statements or advertisements, or they can be implied warranties, such as the assumption that the product is safe to use as intended. This type of case requires proof that the product did not meet the manufacturer’s promises, and as a result, caused you harm.
Do I Have a Case Even if I Did Not Purchase the Product?
Product liability cases involving negligence and strict liability do not require that the injured individual was the person who purchased the defective product that caused him or her harm.
O.C.G.A. § 51-1-11(a) states that privity is not necessary for these types of cases; privity is a contractual relationship between the two parties in the case. In product liability cases, privity occurs when one party purchases a product from another party.
How Much Is My Product Liability Case Worth?
Because every case is unique, it is impossible to determine the value of your product liability case without reviewing the details of your situation. However, some of the most common types of compensation that are awarded from these types of cases include:
- Economic damages – This provides reimbursement to an injury victim for the economic losses he or she has suffered because of an injury. This can include lost wages, lost earning capacity, medical expenses, the purchase price of the product and more.
- Noneconomic damages – Injury victims may also be entitled to noneconomic damages that do not have a set monetary value attached to them. This can include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, and other damages that affect the person’s quality of life.
- Punitive damages – In certain circumstances, it may also be possible to pursue punitive damages through a product liability lawsuit. According to O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1, punitive damages can only be awarded in situations where it can be proven the at-fault party showed willful misconduct, malice, wantonness or complete indifference to the consequences of his or her actions and the harm that could result.
Your attorney will be able to accurately determine the full compensation entitled to you.
Is There a Product Liability Statute of Limitations?
Each state has statutes of limitations that establish the maximum amount of time individuals have to file certain types of lawsuits. In Georgia, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits, which includes product liability lawsuits, is two years from the date of injury, according to O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33. However, no lawsuits can be filed more than 10 years after the product was sold to the consumer, according to O.C.G.A. § 51-1-11(b)(2).
Statutes of limitations are strict deadlines, and if you miss the deadline that applies to your case, you will not be able to file a case and seek compensation. Because these statutes are specific to the details of your case and can be complex, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible to review the laws that apply to your case.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Product Liability Claim?
Product liability cases involve complex legal issues. These cases match everyday consumers against large corporations with significant resources and large teams of skilled lawyers and negotiators.
Because of this, it is always in your best interest to work with a skilled product liability lawyer if you have been injured by a defective product. A lawyer will have the skills and resources needed for taking on these large corporations and complex cases.
We will be able to:
- Investigate your situation to determine if you were harmed by a defective product and if you have a case
- Hire experts to further investigate your situation
- Gather the evidence needed to build your case
- Negotiate for the maximum compensation you are owed for your injuries
- Guide you through the legal process, answering your questions every step of the way
If you believe you were injured because of a defective product, you should not wait to contact the experienced team at Roden Law to schedule a free consultation. We are well-versed in the many laws surrounding product liability, and we can help you fight for the justice you deserve. We also do not charge for representing your case unless we recover compensation for you.