Attorneys often describe a lawsuit as being a “product liability case,” although clients sometimes wonder exactly what that means. A product liability case is essentially a case that arises when a person has been injured or property has been damaged by a dangerous and defective product. A product can be anything from industrial or medical equipment to a motor vehicle to a household appliance, or even a house, and if a product causes injury or damage then a potential product liability claim exists.
How is a Product Liability Case Different?
Product liability cases are not very different from other types of personal injury cases, in that an injured party must still prove fault on the part of the defendants, that he or she has been damaged, and that the fault of the defendant is the cause of those damages. The historical treatment of cases involving dangerous and defective products is the main reason why product liability cases are classified as they are. Additionally, product liability claims provide more causes of action than a typical negligence case. This means that, in addition to pursuing the defendant under just a negligence theory, an injured party might also pursue their case under a warranty theory, a fraud theory, or a strict liability theory. Multiple theories of liability can be asserted in a product liability case, although an injured party is permitted only one recovery.
The strict liability theory of recovery is a relatively new remedy created by courts and state legislatures that in many ways simplifies the proof that an injured party must present to establish his or her case. In a strict liability claim, an injured party is required only to establish that the defendant was the manufacturer or otherwise involved in supplying the product in question (although some states limit those in the chain of supply who might be liable), that the product was supplied in a defective condition that rendered it unreasonably dangerous, and that the defective condition caused harm to the person or his property. Typically, a strict liability theory of recovery is available to any party injured by a defective product, not just the purchaser or user of the product.
Product liability cases arise in a number of settings. Workplace accidents may often be caused by defective products (which, in many cases, gives an injured party potential recovery beyond the often limited workers compensation remedy), as may automobile and semi-truck accidents. Injuries caused by defective drugs or medical devices may also be the basis for a product liability case. Basically, any harm caused by a product can be the basis of a product liability claim.
The types of damages recoverable in a product liability case are the same as in a typical negligence case. These include past and future medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, scarring or disfigurement, and other damages. In certain cases punitive damages may also be recoverable from a defendant in a product liability case.
As with other types of tort cases, statutes of limitation apply to product liability cases. A statute of limitation sets a time limit in which a lawsuit must be filed after a person has sustained an injury caused by the fault of another. Some states also have statutes of repose applicable to product liability cases that deny a person’s ability to bring a claim after a certain number of years after a product was manufactured or supplied. Where the limitation date imposed statute of repose has run, an injured person will be unable to bring a lawsuit even if he or she could file it within the otherwise applicable statute of limitations.
Have you read this and have further questions about product liability? Have you had an injury or damage to your property caused by a defective and dangerous product? Contact Attorney Group today. We will provide a free consultation and evaluate your case. If we determine that you have a valid claim, we will connect you with an affiliated product liability attorney who can represent your interests and help you recover the compensation you deserve, all at no up front cost to you.