An Overview on Products Liability Law

When do you have a case, and what kinds of cases are there?

Products liability shows up in every area of personal injury law as a possible foundation for your claim. So what is it? How do you know when you have a case, and what kinds of cases are there? Who is responsible when a product harms a consumer?

Products liability is a special kind of personal injury case you can bring against companies that make and sell products when you are harmed by a defective product. This overview discusses the most common way to bring a case—strict liability—so that you feel prepared to take the next steps, including speaking with a lawyer and filing your case.

Overview

You can bring a products liability case when you were injured by a product, specifically a defective product. You can generally hold liable any party along the manufacturing chain, including the manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer. Design defects, manufacturing defects and defects in marketing can lead to liability after an injury. If you decide to pursue a case, you will most likely argue a claim of strict liability. There are other legal theories on which you can base your case, but they are less common and harder to win because they require you to identify more specific actions that led to product defects.

Strict Liability

In a strict liability case, the manufacturer’s intent or fault doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t matter if they took reasonable steps to ensure that the product was not defective. Courts and lawmakers did this on purpose because, otherwise, you would have to identify what went wrong and when between the time the product was designed and the time you purchased the product, which would make your case difficult to win.

To be successful, you will need to show that the product was unreasonably dangerous when it was designed, made or sold. You will also need to prove that the seller did not anticipate any changes to the product before it reached the consumer and that you were injured by the defective product. It is not enough that a defective product went unused on your shelf or that the product harmlessly malfunctioned.

There are some defenses available to the party you are trying to hold liable. For example, the other party can try to show that you used the product incorrectly or carelessly or in a way you knew could lead to injury. They can even try to show you knew the product was defective and used it anyway, assuming the risk of potential injury. They can also show that someone else interfered with the product enough that the way it was designed or manufactured had nothing to do with your injury.

Common Questions

Below are some common questions you might want to consider when meeting with an attorney for the first time.

  1. What do you have to prove in a products liability case?
  2. How do I prove a product was defective?
  3. How long does it take to settle a products liability lawsuit?
  4. Can I sue the retailer who sold me the product?

Finding the Right Attorney for Your Needs

It is important to approach the right type of attorney—someone who can help you through your entire case. To do so, you can visit the Super Lawyers directory, and use the search box to find a lawyer based on your legal issue or location.

To help you get started, you may want to consider looking for a personal injury lawyer who has experience with products liability cases. 

Why Should I Talk to a Lawyer?

Your lawyer will help you evaluate your case and determine whether you should bring a strict liability case or whether another legal theory will be more effective. They will also be familiar with the specific things you need to prove in your state, and they will know who you can sue and for what. Your lawyer will also help you get copies of the necessary medical records and product designs, and they will help you interview potential witnesses who can testify to the way the product was made or how you used the product.

A lawyer will be able to anticipate potential problems with your case and advise you on how to approach them. Your lawyer will also keep track of deadlines and file all the paperwork with the necessary courts and agencies, giving you one less thing to worry about.

Why Super Lawyers?

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The patented selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. The objective is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel. As Super Lawyers is intended to be used as an aid in selecting a lawyer, we limit the lawyer ratings to those who can be hired and retained by the public. You can learn more about the selection process here.

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