Product Liability & Personal Injury
There are many high-profile cases in the United States where large sums of money were awarded because of a defective product. In 2014 General Motors discovered that several of its models were manufactured with faulty ignition switches, resulting in at least 13 known deaths and 31 accidents. One class action suit is seeking $10 billion in damages from General Motors. In 2016 Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a Texas jury to pay over $1 billion in damages to patients who claimed that the company covered up flaws in its Pinnacle artificial hips used in hip replacements.
When we buy a product from a retailer or online supplier, we trust that the product will work properly and will be safe to use. What happens, however, when a product’s defects result in injury or death?
If you or someone in your family has been the victim of injury or death due to a defective product, please call my office to discuss a possible claim for damages.
In California, product liability laws are generally consumer friendly. Below are some key aspects of California product liability law:
- Statute of Limitations – Personal injury claims for injuries caused by defective products must be filed within two years of discovering that the injury was caused by the product in question. If a defective product caused damage to your property, a property damage claim can be filed within three years of discovering that the product caused the damage.
- Basis for Liability – There are three main categories of product liability:
- Defective Design – If a product’s design results in an inherent risk of danger that outweighs the benefits of the design, then liability may be established. It also may be established if a reasonable consumer would find a product defective or the warning on a product to be defective.
- Manufacturing Defect – If a manufacturer uses the utmost care in manufacturing a product during all stages in the manufacturing process that still results in an injury or death, we may explore a claim of strict liability for a manufacturing defect.
- Lack of Adequate Warning or Instructions – On occasion, products may be deemed to be dangerous even if they were designed and manufactured properly. The manufacturer, however, has a responsibility to inform consumers of known possible issues with a product.
In the case of Soule v. GM Corp (1994), the courts ruled that “a manufacturer, distributor, or retailer is liable in tort if a defect in the manufacture or design of its product causes injury while the product is being used in a reasonably foreseeable way.”
In California, “strict product liability” is a legal rule that essentially says that a product manufacturer, retailer or distributor is liable to a person injured by that product regardless of whether the victim did everything possible to make sure a defect never happened. This means that a defendant does not have to prove that their conduct met a certain standard.
In order for a product manufacturer, retailer or distributor to win a strict liability case, they must prove the following:
- that the product was used in a way that the victim knew could lead to injury or used a product known to be defective;
- that the victim’s own careless actions contributed to the cause of the injury, including using the product in a way that was not intended;
- that some other person or event interacted with the product to such an extent that the product was not the real cause of the injury.
In 2017, over 60,000 cases were filed in U.S. District Courts for cases related to product liability. My office can help you determine who was at fault for your injury and whether compensatory damages are available. Please contact us today if you have been impacted by a defective product.
Statistics found at: