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Winning a product liability lawsuit means knowing the legal rules

If an unsafe or unreasonably dangerous and defective product injures you, you may have grounds to file a claim against the company that furnished, leased, distributed, sold, manufactured or designed the product. If you have suffered an injury related to that product, the company may be liable for that injury, and may be required to pay for your damages. This is what is referred to as product liability, and the law that governs it is known as product liability law.

Because a product liability lawsuit is a type of personal injury claim that is notoriously difficult to assert and win, as a claimant in a product liability action, you need to learn the general guidelines involved in personal injury claims.

Legal Definition of Product Liability

Product liability generally means that a seller, manufacturer or retailer is held liable when they produce or sell a dangerous or defective product to the public.

Filing a Product Liability Lawsuit

You have a right to file a product liability claim against the retailer, seller, and manufacturer of a defective product when it causes you injury. It is important to note that you will need to secure all documents proving that you were injured due to the defective product, which means taking photographs of the product packaging and manual, and documenting the resulting injury through hospital and medical records, and medication prescriptions. Filing personal injury claims can be a challenging endeavor, as you will be required to establish specific factors in order to have a successful claim.

In order to avoid having your claim deemed invalid, you as the product liability claimant must be able to prove the following elements:

  • That you sustained an injury
  • The product was unreasonably hazardous
  • The product defect caused your injury

Negligence caused by the product defect 

In most jurisdictions when a person suffers an injury related to a service or product, their damage recovery can be based on one (or more) different legal theories: negligence, breach of warranty, statute of limitations and strict liability. The following is a general breakdown of what needs to be proven to constitute product liability.

Negligence on the part of the defendant

Negligence is simply the failure of a company to exercise ordinary care to avoid injury to a person they are responsible for and owe the duty of care to. Ordinary care is defined as the care any reasonable person would provide given the known circumstances at the time. For example, in addition to producing a safe product, the product's container or packaging material must be adequate and be appropriately labeled with warnings and directions for use.

Breach of Warranty

According to liability law, contract law governs all warranty claims. Simply put, warranties are promises, claims or representations made about the number, type, quality, safety or performance of a product. An implied warranty will typically include a warranty of reasonable safety. Because companies and people make claims and promises about the services they provide, services also fall under the law of warranties.

Deadlines for filing a claim

As a defective product injury claimant, you must know the specific statute of limitations regarding your product liability claim. For example, in California, you must file your case within a year from the discovery of your injury. Any claim put forward more than a year after discovering the harm won't be permitted in court.

Strict liability laws apply

If a product is defective, causing injury, strict liability focuses on the product itself, rather than the actions of the manufacturer. In order to establish strict liability, the injured party needs to prove two claims: that the product was defective, and that the defective product caused the injury. Essentially, this means the plaintiff isn't required to prove that the seller or manufacturer was negligent in ensuring their product's safety, only that the defective product caused their injury. While the strict liability rule makes it more convenient to file a personal injury lawsuit, it is still important to seek assistance from a competent injury lawyer to learn how to properly file a personal injury claim.

Make sure your attorney understands the rules

Hiring an attorney with experience handling product liability claims is your best option for obtaining full and fair compensation for your injuries and financial damages. These cases are often complex and the manufacturer may have a team of defense lawyers protecting them from litigation, often by blaming the victim. You need and deserve theaggressive representation on your side.

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