A defective or unsafe product may cause injury or death to a person that has been severely affected by it. Manufacturers and Retailers who carry products have a responsibility to create or sell products that will not cause harm to another person. This is typically referred to as product liability.
The United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) stated that product liability cases have the second-highest median damage awards of all the different types of personal injury claims.
What Exactly is “Product Liability?”
Generally speaking, product liability is the liability of any or all parties along the chain of manufacture of any product for damage caused by that product. This includes the manufacturer of component parts, the assembling manufacturer, the wholesaler, and less frequently the retail store owner.
Products containing inherent defects that cause harm or injury to a consumer (or someone to whom the product was loaned, gifted, or similar) of the product can be subjected to a product liability suit. Primarily, there are two legal theories in which a manufacturer or seller would be held accountable for a dangerous or defective product, known as negligence and the strict liability theory.
Negligence is essentially when a person acts without sufficient care as required for their circumstances, and damages or injures another person as a result of that action. Negligence requires a person to compensate the injured party as a result of his or her negligent act and/or omission.
To be able to present an effective product liability case based on the theory of negligence, the following four elements must be present:
- Duty of Care: It must be determined that the Defendant owed a duty of care to the person who sustained the injury. A “duty of care” is the responsibility placed on an individual or entity to act towards others in accordance with certain standards that would prevent the harm of another party.
- Breach of Duty: The Defendant must participate in some negligent act that results in a breach of their duty of care. For example, every driver on the road owes a duty to every other driver to operate their vehicle in compliance with traffic regulations and to conduct themselves in a manner that avoids causing harm to another driver.
- Causation: The negligent act of the Defendant must cause injury to another party. For example, a driver choosing to get behind the wheel while intoxicated and causing an accident that results in another person’s death demonstrates a negligent act that caused an injury.
- Damages: The negligent act of the Defendant must cause demonstrable damages to the injured party. Individuals who are injured due to the negligence of others must be able to demonstrate economic or non-economic damages as a result of the occurrence. Damages can be quantified through a variety of avenues, including medical bills, funeral costs, loss of prospective income, pain and suffering, and more.
A personal injury claim may be brought under strict liability against any person involved in the chain of manufacture of the product that caused harm to another. In order to raise a claim under strict liability, it must be proven that:
- The injury to the consumer resulted from a condition or defect of the product manufactured or sold by the defendant.
- The condition or defect in question was an unreasonably dangerous one.
- The condition or defect existed at the time the product left the manufacturer’s control.
What are Some Common Types of Product Liability Claims?
A defective design is a design schema for a product that is inherently dangerous. A design defect exists when a product defect is inherent in the design of the product itself. Liability for a design defect exists when there is a hypothetical alternative design that would be safer than the original design, as economically viable as the original design, as practical as the original design, and maintains the primary purpose behind the original design despite the changes made.
Design defects can be potentially found in virtually every type of product, such as cars, children’s toys, machinery, electronic products, or products with poor structural integrity.
A manufacturing defect is a defect that was not intended by the manufacturer. This happens when a product departs from its intended design, even if all possible care was exercised in the preparation and marketing of the product. In a strict liability claim, it is not relevant how careful the manufacturer intended to be during the production of the defective product. In other words, under strict liability, if a defective product leaves the factory, the manufacturer is, well, strictly liable.
Defects in Marketing
A Defect in Marketing deals with unsuitable instructions or a manufacturer’s neglect in warning consumers of any potential latent dangers in a particular product. Manufacturers of products have a responsibility to warn their users about any potential dangers that are not immediately obvious. Some common examples of defective marketing include:
- Incorrect instructions or unclear instructions on how to use a product.
- False claims about the product such as benefits or promises made when using the product
- Failure to warn about risks related to the product (such as allergies, toxic components, flammability, the product’s capability of causing an explosion, voltage hazards, or similar types of risks.)
- Improper warning label: A warning label must be adequate and easily accessible and does not circumvent the need to accurate and adequately explained instructions for use. Warning labels should be easily seen and not hidden inside the product or its packaging.
- Advertisement of a product that encourages improper use
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Product Liability Claim?
In the State of Illinois, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim for product liability is two years from the date that the product was purchased. A personal injury claim arising from a defective product can be a stressful and confusing process. Identifying your avenues for resolution with the person or company at fault can at times appear impossible. Injuries from product liability claims can include high medical expenses and lost wages, among other claims. Injuries can range from mild to incredibly severe, making it all the more important to file a claim in a timely manner to ensure your receive the compensation you deserve.
Proving that a product was badly manufactured can sometimes be difficult to prove when there is lacking evidence. An attorney can help you investigate and identify the type of product defect in your case. Contact Trent Law Firm today to discuss your case and how our experienced personal injury attorneys may be able to help with your product liability claim. Call (866) 599-8601 or fill out our online form for a free and confidential consultation.