When a company releases a product to be sold on the market, consumers who purchase the product have an underlying assumption that it will do its job. They know that there is a chance that they may have a defect that does not work, but most of the time they do not expect the product to cause them harm.
Yet sometimes this happens. Some of the largest companies in the country have made headlines as defective products have caused countless injuries and fatalities. Companies like General Motors Co. have been on the receiving end of multi-million and billion dollar lawsuits when automobile parts don’t work as planned and cause harm to someone, and tobacco companies are sued in class action lawsuits frequently.
There are product liability lawsuits that go to court every day because of injuries that were sustained by the plaintiff. Someone’s negligence along the line caused a product to become defective, and whoever was neglectful must be held accountable. But how do you know who to sue if your product does not work as planned and causes you bodily harm?
That’s where an experienced personal injury attorney who is knowledgeable in the field of product liability is crucial. Never go it alone – if you were injured due to a defective product, the burden of proof is on you and you will need help facing large businesses and corporate giants.
Who is At Fault in a Product Liability Case?
Because there is often a chain of distribution involved when a product causes injury, there can be confusion and ambiguity regarding who is at fault. Your attorney will follow the path from manufacturing to distribution to investigate where the negligence lies, understanding that there may be more than one at-fault party.
The chain of distribution begins at the manufacturing company that created the product in question. This might be a world-wide conglomerate or an individual person. Larger products may even have multiple manufacturers that might be negligent in releasing the defective product.
The chain continues to include additional parties involved in the design and marketing of the product, quality-control engineers, design consultants, technical experts, and more.
Beyond manufacturing, the retailer who sold you the product might be liable as well. This may be the wholesaler or distributor if there are middlemen in the line. These are all people who may be liable and so they should be named as defendants when you file your lawsuit.
Determining who is at fault is up to the jury, ultimately. Your lawyer will compile a thorough investigation and present your case through evidence. While the majority of the work is on their shoulders, there are a few things that you can do to help ensure they have the details they need.
The experts at Hershey Injury Law are ready to help you take the next step and guide you through the process with these helpful things to keep in mind.
What You Need to Prove in a Product Liability Lawsuit
When your attorney is putting together your case, they will be doing so with the end result in mind. Each state has different requirements, but the majority of product liability laws have the same basic components to them that have to be proven in order to successfully win a case.
The first thing you must prove is that you were injured or somehow suffered a loss due to the product. Accidents happen, and if there is no injury resulting from the accident, there is no case.
To prove your injury, you must ensure that you seek medical treatment and follow your doctor’s orders. The medical paperwork should be able to sufficiently show your injury if you had bodily harm. If the damage was to something tangible, document it with photos as much as possible right after the defect causes the problem.
Next, you must prove that the product is defective. The proof will depend on the type of claim that you are presenting. Common types of product liability claims include:
- Defectively manufactured products,
- Defectively designed products, and
- Inadequate warnings or poorly created instructions.
The proof that you and your attorney show in your case must correlate with your claim.
You must also show clear, compelling evidence that the defect caused your injury. This is where the chain of distribution can get tricky and your lawyer’s expertise comes into play. The defense will likely try to argue that your own actions caused the injury, not the defect of the product, so you and your attorney will have to carefully show the chain of events that resulted in the injury.
Finally, you must be able to show that you were using the product as intended. For example, if you were using an electrical product in the bathtub, you were going against every warning and were not using it as the manufacturer’s intended. In general, you should have been using the product as could be reasonably expected by the average consumer.
What Types of Compensation Are Common With Product Liability?
Injuries caused by product defects can range from mild to severe and life-altering or even fatal. These injuries put a strain on individuals as they strive to learn how to adjust to a new quality of life and their families as they attempt to compensate as well.
There are rules in place to help those who suffer from damages because of negligence in product defects. These rules are designed to hold those at fault accountable, but also to help the victims to be compensated for their injuries. If you can prove that your injury was caused directly by a product that was defective, you will probably be eligible for compensation.
Compensation in this type of case comes in multiple forms. Courts will consider everything from financial losses and future financial needs to emotional suffering of the victim and those closest to them. You can expect to see compensation in the forms of:
- Medical expenses. Any type of personal injury, including those caused by product defects, will likely require medical treatment. If the injury is extensive, it is going to require long-term therapy, medication, specialist visits, and possibly surgery. Previous, current, and future medical expenses are considered. These costs are taken into account when the determination of compensation is made at the end of a successful lawsuit.
- Loss of employment ability/ loss of income. With a moderate or severe injury often comes the inability to sustain employment in the victim’s previous field. They likely lost income while recovering from their damages and may not be able to return to work without extensive retraining, if at all. Direct and indirect income losses are accounted for to help the injured party receive the maximum benefits possible to help them in the future.
- Disfigurement. While injuries are important, sometimes the accident results in disfigurement through scars or other permanent effects. Some of these types of injuries may be fixable with extensive cosmetic treatment, but those treatments may not be affordable to the victim. Disfigurement is understood to change the victim’s quality of life and is therefore considered to be compensable.
- Pain and suffering. Dealing with pain on a regular basis can be exhausting and debilitating. Those who are injured in an accident due to someone’s neglect are often compensated for the pain and suffering that they went through at the time of the incident, as well as their daily discomfort.
- Permanent disability. Disabilities can run the gamut from mild to severely debilitating. Mild disabilities that result from a product liability injury can be limps, numbness, or tics. Moderate and severe disabilities can include loss of limb and other life-altering injuries. No matter the severity, however, victims of a product defect injury that have permanent disabilities will often be rewarded through both compensatory and punitive damages.
- Loss of consortium. If the victim has close family members or a spouse who has also been impacted by emotional and financial burdens, they may be eligible for a loss of consortium compensation. This is for spouses who have to lose out on their income to take care of the injured party during their time of injury or have to work extra to compensate for the victim’s inability to work. It also covers the whole family’s psychological grief and loss of time spent with children while recovering from the injury and during the times when the pain is too great to handle normal daily living.
- Mental anguish. All of these traumas together add up to a total suffering called “mental anguish.” This category combines physical and mental trauma to give an overall psychological impact from the injury. It takes into account the injured party’s ability to actively participate in life as they once did. If they now experience episodes of anxiety, depression, or fear, they may not be able to handle relationships as they once did. This includes work relationships, close family, and friends. Mental anguish compensation is meant to help a victim be able to financially take care of themselves through their suffering.
Get the Compensation You Deserve
You may not be able to fight the giants on your own, but if you were a victim of a product defect, you should seek an attorney as soon as possible. Discuss with them the potential avenues that you have in front of you to sue for liability for your injuries.
While a lawsuit will never take away the pain and suffering that you have had to deal with, winning it will force the parties responsible to take accountability. This may stop others from going through the trauma that you went, and are still going, through.
It also holds them accountable financially and can give you the means that you have to put away financial worries for a while and concentrate on healing your body, your mind, and your relationships.
When you are ready to fight the giants, call the experts at Hershey Injury Law. We are ready to help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.