If you’ve suffered an injury or illness as a result of a defective product, you can file a personal injury claim under product liability statutes to recover financial and non-financial damages associated with your injury. Under product liability laws, consumers are able to hold vendors, designers and/or manufacturers of products legally responsible for the damages that result from exposure to, or the use of, a defective product.
These statutes vary from one jurisdiction to the next; however, in most locations, a product can include almost anything that is manufacturer, produced, designed and/or sold, including, but not limited to, food and other consumables, automotive parts, medications, and medical instruments or devices.
There are three broad categories of defective product personal injury claims: (1) manufacturing defects, (2) design defects, and (3) failure to warn. Each focuses on a specific kind of failure on the part of the designer, manufacturer, or distributor or vendor of the product.
Proving Your Defective Product Personal Injury Claim
In any personal injury claim you must show another party is responsible for your injury. In the case of defective product personal injury claims you must also clearly prove a defect exists in the product at fault for your injury and that in one way or another the designer, manufacturer, producer, distributor or vendor should have: (1) reasonably anticipated the potential for harm resulting from the defective product, AND (2) should either have discontinued production of or not distributed the product, OR should have at least warned consumers regarding the potential for injury from exposure to, or use of, the product.
If a warning was issued with the product, you must also show you used the product appropriately according to the warning and still suffered an injury as a result of use. In other words, you must prove you were not at fault for your injuries and that liability lies solely with a third party.
- Manufacturing Defects – In these types of defective product claims, a problem in the manufacturing process must be proven in order to substantiate a claim for compensation under product liability statutes. The problem can be in the manufacturing equipment, in the materials used in a product, or in the quality or inspection processes of the manufacturer.
- Design Defects – Personal injury claims of this type must prove there was an issue in a product’s design that ultimately resulted in your injuries. Most lawsuits of this kind argue that insufficient testing procedures were used prior to the manufacture and distribution of the product and that had adequate testing been employed in the product design and development phases defects would have been discovered and would therefore have prevented injuries from occurring.
- Failure to Warn – This type of personal injury claim under product liability statutes deals with the safety documentation and warning labels included with or appearing on products. It is not a defect in the product itself but in the communication processes of the product manufacturer, distributor or retailer. In such a case, you must show the safety documents or warning labels were insufficient. You must also show you followed recommended use procedures and were injured anyway.
It is important to note that in any defective product personal injury claim you must show you were not at fault for the injuries you suffered in order to receive significant compensation in a lawsuit. Even if a product defect exists, in some cases your improper or negligent use of a product can limit or entirely dismiss your claim. In other words, your failure to follow guidelines for proper use can negate the liability of a third party for your injuries.
Your Defective Product Personal Injury Case
Consulting with a product liability attorney or personal injury lawyer is the first step in determining the viability of a lawsuit. He or she will review the details of your case and help you decide if filing a formal lawsuit is in your best interest. The severity of the injuries you suffered due to a defective product often determine the amount of compensation that can be received for damages.
A personal injury lawyer familiar with product liability claims will be able to determine the full extent of the damages to which you may be entitled and can help you collect the documentation and other proof required for arguing your claim. He or she can either negotiate a settlement on your behalf or present your case at trial, whichever is necessary and warranted in your case.