If you have been harmed by a defective product you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The companies who design, manufacture and distribute defective products – and the people who sell them – can and should be held responsible for injuries these products cause. As an experienced Los Angeles defective product attorney, Joshua W. Glotzer can help you fight to recover the compensation you deserve after you are injured by a defective product. Contact his Los Angeles office today for a free consultation.
Understanding Product Liability
When you are injured by a defective product you may be entitled to recover compensation from the manufacturer. Your experienced Los Angeles product liability attorney will investigate the accident that caused your injury. The purpose of this investigation will be to uncover why the product was defective and who may be responsible for the defect. The type of defect that causes your injury will help your attorney determine how to frame your legal argument. There are three main legal theories of defective product liability:
- design defect,
- manufacturing defect, and
- failure to warn.
A product may have a design defect when the product is inherently dangerous because of its design. A design can be interpreted to mean many things, including the actual specifications for its construction and even the choice of materials. In California, there are two tests to establish defective design. Each asks a different question about the defective product.
The consumer expectation test looks at whether the product performed as safely as an ordinary customer would have expected it to perform. If you argue that a product has a defective design under the consumer expectation test you must prove:
- The defendant manufactured, distributed, or sold the product;
- The product was used as intended or misused in a reasonably foreseeable way;
- The product did not perform as safely as an ordinary customer would have expected it to perform under those circumstances;
- You were harmed; and
- The product’s failure to perform safely was a substantial factor in causing your injury.
The risk/benefit test asks if the inherent risks of a product outweigh the benefits of the product’s design. If the risks do not outweigh the design then a manufacturer may be liable for injuries caused by that product. In determining whether a product’s risk outweigh the benefits of its design the following factors must be considered:
- Gravity of danger and likelihood that the danger would occur;
- The feasibility of a safer alternative design;
- The financial cost of improving the design; and
- Potential adverse consequences of the improved design.
A manufacturing defect may exist when a product is not manufactured as designed. A product can have a manufacturing defect when it differs from the design or differs from other typical units produced in the same product line. In other words, when the product differs from the manufacturer’s intended result, a manufacturing defect claim may be successful. When this defect is a substantial factor in causing you harm, you may be entitled to compensation.
Failure to Warn
A manufacturer, distributor, or seller may be liable if they fail to adequately warn consumers about potential dangers or risks to personal safety. In California, you can establish a claim of failure to warn when you prove:
- The company manufactured, distributed, or sold the product;
- The product had risks that the company knew about or should have known about;
- Ordinary customers would not have recognized those potential risks;
- Those risks posed a significant threat of harm to the user;
- The product was used as intended or misused in a reasonably foreseeable way;
- The company failed to adequately warn or instruct about the potential risks;
- And you were harmed because of that failure to warn.
Most products come with warning labels or lengthy instruction booklets. These are often designed and included to warn users of every foreseeable risk of harm that could result from using the product.
Who Can Be Liable For a Defective Product?
When you are injured by a defective product there may be a few potentially liable parties. In California, anyone who is responsible for the manufacture, distribution, or sale of a defective product may be responsible for the harms that are caused. Generally, this means that can seek compensation from anyone who contributed to the process of getting the product into your hands. This begins with the product designer and ends with the store or merchant who sold you the product.
Negligence and Strict Liability
The type of product liability claim you file will determine what you will have to prove to win your case. Some product liability claims will require proving that the defective product’s manufacturer, distributor, or seller was negligent in some way. Others will only require you to prove that the product was defective.
Claims based on negligence must establish that a manufacturer, distributor, or seller owed some responsibility or duty to you, the consumer, and breached that duty. For example, certain products must be designed to comply with certain industry or regulatory standards. A company has a duty to adhere to these standards to protect consumers. If they decide to alter a design in a way that does not comply with certain standards you can argue that they breached their duty to you. If this breach causes you to be harmed, you may have a claim based on negligence.
Claims based on strict liability must only prove that the product that harmed you was defective. A manufacturer, distributor, or seller must then prove that the injury was due to misuse, abuse, or modification of the product. You do not have to prove that the company was negligent, only that the product had a defect.
Compensation For Injuries Caused By Defective Products
When products do not work as expected or are defective you and your family can be seriously injured. If you are burned or cut by a defective toy the harm caused by a defect may be minor. If you sustain a traumatic brain injury after defective airbags in your car deploy or if your child chokes on a part of a toy, the harm caused by a defect can be life-or-death. In California, you may be entitled to recover damages from manufacturers, distributors, and/or sellers of defective products for your injuries.
What kind of compensation can you recover?
First, you can seek to recover economic damages. These are awarded to help you cover the costs of medical bills, rehabilitation, nursing care, and even lost present and future wages. These damages help to put you back in the position you would have been in financially had you not been injured.
Second, you can seek to recover non-economic damages. These are awarded to compensate you for injuries that are difficult to value in terms of money. We all know pain and suffering when we see it, but how do you put a value on someone’s personal and intimate distress? Non-economic damages are very subjective. They often depend on the severity of the injury and the degree of care the manufacturer, distributor, or seller took to protect the consumer.
Experienced Los Angeles Product Liability Attorney
If you have been injured by a defective product you should not hesitate to contact an experienced California product liability attorney. California will allow you to file a claim for damages, but it limits the amount of time you have to do so. Generally, claims for bodily injuries must be filed within two years of the injury, and claims for property damage must be filed within three years of the damage. There are limited exceptions, but it is important to move quickly after an accident. Hiring an experienced California product liability attorney to represent you is the best way to ensure that your claims are filed within the appropriate statute of limitations.
For the past two decades, Los Angeles personal injury attorney Joshua W. Glotzer has been helping injured clients like you recover compensation for injuries caused by defective products. Mr. Glotzer often takes on cases that other firms won’t because he believes in holding manufacturers, distributors, and sellers responsible for the harms their products cause. No case is too big or too small. Contact the Glotzer & Leib, LLP today to schedule your free consultation.