Your Comprehensive Guide to Filing a Product Liability Claim
Defective products cause thousands of injuries per year in the United States. These products are characterized by their poor design and lack of safety features, which exposes people to countless health risks. If a product defect results in injury or property damage, you may be able to file a product liability claim. You can seek damages from the manufacturer or seller under California’s product liability law.
Read on to learn more about product liability claims and how we can help you seek compensation for your injuries due to a defective product.
What Does Product Liability Mean?
Product liability refers to a product seller’s state of responsibility for making a defective product available to a consumer. If a faulty product results in injuries, a party in the product supply chain is usually responsible.
These parties include the designer, manufacturer, distributor, or retailer. An investigation can reveal which party bears responsibility.
Types of Product Liability Claims
Products have a defective design if they are not as safe to reasonably use as the ordinary consumer would expect them to be. If the risk of using the product outweighs the benefit, it can also constitute a design defect.
Examples of products with design defects include top-heavy cars and heaters that are likely to catch fire.
A product with a manufacturing defect differs from the products that the manufacturer intended to produce. The error may also cause the product to differ from seemingly identical products on the same line.
Examples of manufacturing defects include using the wrong fasteners for product assembly, installing faulty product components, or backward electric circuitry installation.
Lack of Sufficient Warnings
As per the product liability laws in California, manufacturers and sellers have a legal duty to provide consumers with sufficient warnings and instructions for use.
For example, a product’s packaging containing small components should contain a choking hazard warning.
Key Elements of a Product Liability Claim
According to California state law, the plaintiff who seeks compensation for damages must submit proof to prove a defective product liability claim.
For your claim to prevail, the following four elements must be present:
The Product is Defective
First, you must prove that the product was defective. The difficulty of proving this element depends on what claim you’re making.
For example, claiming the product is flawed due to a manufacturing error is easy to prove, as you can point to physical evidence. However, proving if the product was manufactured correctly may be harder, but its design is inherently flawed.
Defect Must be Present While in Defendant’s Possession
Second, you must prove that the product already had the defect while still in your possession. There would be no liability if the product were no longer under your control when it became defective.
You Must Be Using the Product Reasonably
Third, you must have been using the product in a reasonably foreseeable manner. For example, if you fit a blade meant for wood to your circular saw and used it to cut a steel rod, you may lose control over the saw and sustain an injury.
The design and construction of this type of blade are not suitable for cutting steel rods, so you did not use it in a reasonably foreseeable manner.
However, if you use the same ripping blade to make a rough cut along the grain of a wooden workpiece, you use it to the manufacturer’s specifications. In this case, a kickback that causes injury may result from a defective product.
Injury Was Sustained From the Defect
Lastly, you must demonstrate that you suffered an injury or other damages due to the defect. You cannot be liable if you don’t suffer an injury, trauma, or economic loss.
For example, if you notice a defect before using a product, you can return it to the seller but not institute a personal injury claim.
What to Do After A Defective Product Causes Injury?
Here’s what you must do after a defective product causes injury.
Seek Medical Attention for Your Injuries
The first step is to seek medical treatment for your injuries, even if you don’t think they’re that serious. Your doctor will determine the severity of the injuries and offer you the appropriate treatment.
Any medical documents that prove you’ve been injured will serve as supporting evidence and the basis of compensation for your personal injury case. These documents include receipts, tests, and prescriptions.
Take Photos for Documentation
Document your injuries, as well as the product that caused you harm. It also helps to make a written testimony of what exactly happened and how you were injured, so you can present this to your lawyer and help them build a stronger case. If anyone witnessed the incident, make sure to collect their contact information and testimony.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer at Adamson Ahdoot
Seek legal help from experienced attorneys who can help you navigate the complexities of a product liability claim.
At Adamson Ahdoot, we work diligently with you to ensure you have proper legal representation to maximize your settlement and get the compensation you deserve.
How to File for a Product Liability Claim
Below are the steps to follow before you proceed with your claim:
Prepare Your Evidence
The most crucial part of filing your product liability claim is gathering enough evidence to prove your case. For this reason, ensure you have photos of the product and proper documentation of your injuries. Hiring an experienced lawyer will save you time and ensure you’re right on track with this.
Research About the Product
Are there any instances where the same product injured other people in the past? If so, this will be valuable proof that will strengthen your claim.
Report the Defective Product
Create a written report of your injury and how it happened, then address it to the manufacturer. Your lawyer may also be the one to draft this report and send it on your behalf.
They may also oversee the negotiations for your settlement. It’s important to let the manufacturing company that their product has caused you harm.
To avoid lengthy court battles, your lawyer will negotiate compensation with the at-fault party. But if either party can’t come to an agreement, you’ll go to trial to defend your case.
File a Lawsuit
Before going to trial, your lawyer will check if there are any pending cases against the company for the same defect. In this case, you may opt to join and add your name in the class-action lawsuit.
However, if there aren’t any pending cases, you can sue the company in small claims court if the claim is less than $35,000. You must bring the case to the supreme court for claims that cost higher than that amount.
California Product Liability Laws
In Los Angeles, strict liability applies to this area of law. The person or company who designs, manufactures, or sells the defective product is liable, even when they are not negligent in causing the injury. Under California law, manufacturers must anticipate how an average consumer will use or misuse their product.
While there are harmful products in the market, manufacturers must minimize harm to the public by indicating complete instructions on using the product safely. On the other hand, the comparative fault law applies in California, where the compensation may be reduced if the plaintiff is partly to blame in the incident.
The plaintiff’s responsibility is not to demonstrate the defendant’s negligence. The plaintiff only needs to show that the products were defective and that the defect resulted in injury. Product liability attorneys usually base defective product suits on strict liability to claim for injuries and other damages.
What are the Types of Compensation Available?
Certain parties are entitled to compensatory damages in a variety of lawsuits. Regarding product liability, these damages are the sum of money that the plaintiff claims as compensation for personal injury or losses incurred from a defective product.
While compensatory damages are restorative, these funds may not be able to reverse the plaintiff’s situation, especially in the case of wrongful death or permanent injury.
You can claim two categories of damage: economic and non-economic losses.
Economic losses pertain to costs, missed opportunities to grow assets, and damage to property. Calculating economic losses is generally straightforward. Keep all documentation, such as medical bills, repair invoices, and other documentation, to prove your financial losses.
- Medical expenses and future medical expenses to treat injuries, including bills from hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, and therapists
- Loss of profits or wages if injuries prevent you from working
- Cost of disability, including home care and equipment costs
- Property loss or damage
Defective products can also cause non-economic losses such as pain, suffering, and loss of consortium. When faulty products cause severe injuries, plaintiffs often claim compensation for these damages under the California product liability law. In the case of wrongful death, plaintiffs may also suffer the emotional trauma of losing a loved one.
Quantifying a subjective, intangible loss can be challenging, and product liability lawyers often look at previous liability cases to estimate the value of such a claim. To ensure that your claim for a non-economic loss is successful, seek the help of a reputable product liability lawyer Los Angeles residents know and trust.
Schedule a Free Consultation
If you incur injuries or other damages because of a defective product, we’ll guide you through the process of filing a liability claim to ensure you receive sufficient compensation for your losses.
Contact the Los Angeles product liability lawyers at Adamson Ahdoot at (800) 310-1606 to schedule a free consultation.
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