Are you or your loved one a victim of a defective product? Or maybe you’re a manufacturer or a business owner who’s accused of selling a product with liability? Then this article is a must-read for you.
Generally, the law requires products to meet the ordinary consumer expectations. However, some products don’t meet these, resulting in product liability claims due to negligence or warranty breach. The major types of defects that may cause injury include design defects, manufacturing defects, and marketing defects such as inadequate safety warnings and improper labeling.
Product liability law sets legal rules to identify the person or entity responsible for a defective or dangerous product, making it easier for the injured victim to recover damages by filing a claim. This type of claim is called a product liability claim. Because a product undergoes a chain of distribution, the liability could rest on the product manufacturer, the party that installed or assembled the product, the wholesaler, or the retail store.
But what happens in a product liability claim? Check this helpful guide below.
- Proving Negligence Or Strict Liability
The product defect exists when there’s negligence. Hence, it’s important to be proven for a product liability claim to push through. In other cases, the victim doesn’t need to prove the manufacturer or seller was negligent.
The mere fact that the product is defective can help a victim recover from the damages caused by it. Read more here to have an example regarding the case of companies selling tea bags with high amounts of pesticides.
Proving negligence or strict liability gives rise to common defenses such as the following:
- No Sufficient Identification: A victim should be able to associate the defective product with the manufacturer. If the victim can’t identify the supplier that caused the injury, then the claim could be denied or the case could be dismissed.
- Market Share Liability: If a victim can’t identify the supplier of a product such as a medication, then the pharmaceutical company or the pharmacy (with major product sales similar to the alleged ineffective or adverse effect-causing medication) will be held liable based on the area sales percentage where the injury happened.
- Product Misuse Or Alteration: Consumers avail products because of their marketed advantages. However, improper use of a product could result in serious repercussions. The manufacturer can say the victim altered the product, resulting in injury. Therefore, the victim should prove the product was used according to the manufacturer’s instructions to establish a good case.
- Legal Process Of A Product Liability Claim
Your lawyer will conduct an in-depth investigation to prove your claim. The first steps in a product liability claim investigation are to follow the legal process, which involves:
- Taking a detailed event history and decide if the issues warrant an investigation.
- Gathering and reviewing any relevant documentation, including the manufacturer’s report and the medical records of the victim.
- Getting expert advice or evidence to confirm if the product was defective or dangerous as opposed to its advertised use and safety level.
- The victim’s lawyer will send formal notification and set out the claim’s basis against the defendant or the accused.
- The accused will conduct their investigation and respond to admit or deny what has happened. Manufacturers or sellers can defend themselves against a product liability claim if they believe the injury was the user’s fault or a third party.
- A review is made and negotiation takes place for settlement without court proceedings.
- If the victim disputes the claim and the evidence points out a conclusive case of product liability, a court proceeding takes place.
- Compensating A Product Liability Claim
A benefit of filing a claim when a person suffers injury from using a defective product is the funding one could receive for treatment and rehabilitation. A victim of a defective product can seek compensation for damages.
The types of compensation in a product liability claim include the following:
- General Damages: Victims can claim for sustained injury, including loss of amenity, pain, and suffering caused by using the defective product.
- Special Damages: Victims can claim for expenses they paid out-of-pocket as a result of the sustained injury such as medical expenses, travel expenses, and loss of earnings. All financial losses and future losses are categorized under special damages.
- Considering The Timeline
Court trials for product liability claims should be filed within three years from the date of injury, which is bound under the statutes of limitations. That’s why you should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure you’ll be able to take action legally the soonest.
On the other hand, a victim can still file a claim when the cause of the injury was just discovered recently as a result of using the defective product. In addition, the Consumer Protection Act provides a longstop period, requiring that any claims under this act can be raised within 10 years the product was launched in the market.
For victims of product defects, they can choose to accept or reject the offer of the seller or manufacturer during the negotiation process. An experienced lawyer can give accurate value on the fair amount of compensation a victim should demand from the insurance company of the defendant or the defendant directly. Whatever the case, it’s crucial to keep in mind the statutory limitations to ensure justice will be served.
- Case Resolution
Once the victim accepts the settlement offer, any claim or case will be closed. The case can be dragged from a few months to a couple of years, depending on the eagerness of both parties to resolve the claim and their mutual agreement. Both sides would need the help of a personal injury lawyer specialized in handling such cases.
A product liability claim can be complicated. Therefore, victims and even manufacturers should hire experienced product liability lawyers to guard their defenses. Pursuing a product liability claim can be a difficult, stressful, and lengthy process for a claimant. Hence, it’s important to find a solicitor who’s approachable and responsive to your legal needs.