Defective products cause thousands of injuries every year, and if you’re a victim, you probably want to know if you need to hire a product liability attorney. If your case falls under one of the various types of defective product liability, it’s advised that you contact an attorney to find out what your legal rights are.
Understanding the Different Types of Defective Product Liability
Defects in Manufacturing
A product with a defect in manufacturing is a common type of defective product liability issue that happens when a product is designed appropriately but a batch of the products, or a single product, has some sort of dangerous flaw. In this case, most products that come out of manufacturing are not defective, but one is or several are. For example, one batch of cough syrup has been contaminated, but all other batches are fine.
If you are the consumer who purchases one of the contaminated bottles, you may be able to file a defective product liability case if you or your loved one suffered illness or injury due to the contaminant. People who purchase the bottles that weren’t contaminated would not be able to sue the manufacturer because their product was not defective. Additionally, you’ll be required to prove your injuries or illness were the direct result of the defective product.
Defects in Design
Unlike defects in manufacturing, you may be able to file a product liability lawsuit if you or a loved one suffered injuries from a product because of the way it was designed. In a case like this, all products that come out of the manufacturing plant are inherently dangerous, even if they were manufactured and assembled according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Design defects often lead to product recalls to fix the design flaw or to end production altogether.
An example of a product design defect is a pressure cooker that allows the operator to open the lid while it’s still under pressure. In this example, all models of this pressure cooker are designed to operate the same way, but because they can be opened during a dangerous cooking phase, the operator could be severely injured. The product would need to be redesigned so that the top could not be opened while under pressure.
Inadequate Warnings or Instructions
In this type of defective product liability, the manufacturer fails to include an adequate warning or operating instructions with a product that could harm the user if not operated in the proper manner. These claims typically involve a product that can be a safety hazard in a way that’s not completely obvious to the user or a product that requires specific precautions to operate. The manufacturer must know about the danger presented by the product for this claim to apply.
For instance, in the above-mentioned example of the pressure cooker, if the manufacturer knows there’s a possibility that the user could open the lid while the device is still under pressure, they would have to put a warning on the device and instructions that explicitly tell the user not to open the lid during this phase. Then, if the user opens the lid anyway, despite the warning and instructions, the manufacturer will likely be protected from a lawsuit.
When to Hire a Product Liability Attorney
Your Injuries Are a Result of the Defect
In all cases of defective product liability, your injuries must be the result of the defect to qualify for a liability claim. For example, in the case of the contaminated cough syrup, if you were to get the product in your eyes and it injured your corneas, you wouldn’t be able to file a manufacturing defect claim for the contamination. Your injuries or illness would have to be the result of the contamination for this type of claim to apply.
The same is true for the design defect of the pressure cooker. If you’re injured because steam burned your face from opening the lid, you’d have to prove that you opened it during the dangerous phase of cooking and that users shouldn’t be able to open it for the lawsuit to be successful. Likewise, if the manufacturer knew about this defect and didn’t provide a warning, you’d have to prove your injuries came from this exact known defect.
You’re Unsure of Your Case
One of the best reasons to consult with a product liability lawyer is to determine if you have a case in the first place. Product liability law can be tricky, so you want to get advice from someone who is experienced and knowledgeable about this particular legal field. An attorney will be able to tell you if the injuries you suffered were the result of a manufacturing or design defect, or from a lack of an adequate warning or instructions.
In some instances, your case may be one of dozens or even more that have been filed against a company for a manufacturing or design defect, or because the company failed to provide a proper warning. In this situation, you may be able to join a class-action lawsuit, which is where several plaintiffs join together to sue a manufacturer because they all suffered an injury from the same product defect. These cases can often be stronger than individual lawsuits.
You Don’t Know if You Can Prove It
Product liability claims are notoriously difficult to prove because of the number of frivolous lawsuits that have been filed in the past. The court doesn’t want to waste its time with lawsuits from people who weren’t truly injured or who file the claim because they think they can win millions of dollars for a minor defect that doesn’t really present a danger. For these reasons, your case must be strong, with plenty of evidence of your injuries and the defect.
An experienced attorney will be able to convince a judge and jury that your injuries or financial losses were the direct result of a product defect. Moreover, they’ll be able to prove that there was a defect in the first place. This can be challenging, especially since the manufacturer will do everything in their power to prove that there wasn’t a defect or that the defect did not directly cause your injuries, even if it was a contributing factor.
You Aren’t an Expert In Negotiation
Often, product liability cases settle out of court because the manufacturer has an interest in keeping details of their product defect out of the public eye. This often happens early in a case, when the defense is most motivated to make the case just go away. However, the manufacturer will try to pay the lowest amount possible, which may not be what you deserve, particularly if it does not cover all your losses, both physically and financially.
The benefit of having a product liability lawyer is that they will advise you when a settlement offer is appropriate and when they think you should continue to fight for more. They will be prepared with your case whether it settles or goes to court, so they won’t force you to take a settlement that isn’t adequate for your injuries. And, if it comes down to a trial, you’ll know your rights are well represented there, too.
If you or someone you love has been injured by a defective product, the best course of action is to consult an attorney who is experienced in product liability law to determine the value of your case. Contact Ochs Law Firm today to book your initial consultation and get yourself on the path toward justice.