If a product malfunctions or breaks, it can cause serious injuries. Product liability cases occur when a dangerous or defective product injures a consumer. The San Diego product liability lawyers at Estey & Bomberger, LLP can help you if a dangerous or defective product injured you or a loved one in San Diego County.
What are Common Injuries and Damages From Defective Products?
Many types of consumer products are capable of inflicting injuries, illnesses, and other damages on unaware consumers. Some products, such as kitchen knives, lawnmowers, and some electronic devices are inherently dangerous to a degree through normal use. There is an expectation for consumers to use products as intended, so manufacturers must provide accurate and comprehensive instructions for use and safety warnings. A customer cannot file a defective product complaint for misuse of a product. A defective product, by definition, is one that fails to meet claimed performance standards, does not include adequate instructions or safety warnings, or malfunctions with normal use.
For example, a customer purchases a new set of kitchen knives from a manufacturer. While chopping vegetables, the consumer is distracted and accidentally slices off a finger. The manufacturer wouldn’t be liable in this event because the injury happened due to the user’s own negligence. If the consumer went to use one of the knives and the handle shattered in his or her hand causing injuries, then the consumer would have grounds for a defective product claim.
Defective products can cause acute injuries such as cuts, scrapes, burns, and even amputations. Other products may cause progressive injuries, illnesses, or medical conditions that worsen over time. The timeframe of when symptoms of a product-related injury or illness appeared will be a crucial factor in a future defective product claim.
The damages available to a plaintiff in a defective product claim hinge on the effects of a defective product, so it’s essential for potential claimants to carefully track any and all expenses related to a defective product. This can include invoices for treatment for injuries, correspondence with manufacturers or other companies involved in the product’s chain of distribution, or any bills for necessary repairs from damage from a defective product.
Some defective products may not cause noticeable harm at first, but symptoms of serious medical issues or other complications appear months or even years after the purchase date. In these cases, plaintiffs must have thorough evidence that clearly outlines the extent of the damages resulting in that time. It’s possible for a plaintiff to secure compensation for future damages including long-term medical care, rehabilitation, therapy, and disability. After confirming the plaintiff’s claim meets the required statute of limitations, the plaintiff’s attorney will being identifying relevant parties in the lawsuit and compiling the evidence of the plaintiff’s damages.
Burns and Dangerous Products
Burn injury is a common result of dangerous products. The intensity of a burn depends on how many layers of skin suffered damage. The most severe type of burn is a third-degree burn, a burn that damages the entire thickness of skin as well as nerve endings. Without these layers of skin, the body does not have anything that is keeping blood and fluids from escaping. Fluid will begin flowing from the wound. Extensive fluid loss can lead to renal shut down and hypovolemic shock.
After suffering a severe burn, replacing the lost fluids is vital. The amount of fluid that you need depends on the size of the burn, severity of the burn, time that has gone by since the burn occurred, and various other factors.
Burns and other catastrophic injuries from defective products can lead to considerable damages. For example, a plaintiff who sustained serious burns from a defective product may not have the ability to work in the future. Burns can also cause psychological stress in addition to extreme physical pain. A plaintiff in such a case could secure compensation for the medical expenses related to treating his or her burn injuries, psychological counseling, and lost income. The plaintiff’s attorney would likely contact an expert witness who could provide a reasonable estimate of the plaintiff’s lost future earnings, as well.
A product liability claim only requires a plaintiff to prove the product in question is defective and the defect caused the plaintiff’s claimed damages. This is unlike a personal injury lawsuit, which hinges on the concept of negligence. In some cases, a defendant in a product liability claim may need to prove he or she was not negligent in the design, production, or marketing of a product to avoid further legal penalties.
What are the Different Types of Product Defects?
Many things can go wrong in a product supply chain. Each organization involved in creating and distributing a product has the opportunity to make a mistake. The three main types of product defects are design defects, manufacturing defects, and marketing defects. Design defects issues make the product inherently dangerous, regardless of how carefully the manufacturer produces it. Design defects typically affect every unit produced using the defective design, which will prompt a manufacturer to issue a recall if the potential for liability lawsuits is too great.
Manufacturing defect issues occur while the manufacturer is creating or assembling it. The product design could have been safe and reasonable, but something went wrong during the manufacturing process. In this situation, the manufacturer or a supplier of basic components would likely share liability, but the defect may also fall to a malfunctioning piece of equipment used in the manufacturing or assembly of the product. This is part of the reason why it is important to thoroughly research a defective product’s full chain of distribution when building your case.
Marketing defects center on how the product was presented to the public. Companies must clearly state any dangers or risks that come along with their products. If someone suffers an injury and the label did not clearly warn consumers about the risk. Defective marketing can also apply to some cases of false advertising. If a manufacturer claims a product can perform a specific action and a consumer suffers injuries while attempting to perform that action, the manufacturer is liable for the device’s failure to meet the claims made in the products’ advertisements.
Some products are unavoidably dangerous. If the designer or manufacturer removed the potential danger, the product would no longer be useful. For example, a knife dulled for safety will not be an effective tool. In situations where the product is inherently dangerous, the company must clearly state the warnings and dangers on the product. As long as the consumer has sufficient warning, it is up to the consumer to use the product as intended and keep him or herself safe while using it.
Who are the Potential Responsible Parties in my Liability Case?
Determining liability is based on determining who was responsible for the defect that made the product dangerous. Unlike some personal injury cases, multiple options exist for potential responsible parties:
- The product manufacturer
- The manufacturer of any component or added parts
- The assembler or installer of the product
- The wholesaler
- The retailer
Joint And Several Liability
One of the most important reasons to thoroughly research the chain of distribution of the product in your liability lawsuit is that each and every defendant shares liability for your damages, but they can also be solely responsible in some cases. It’s up to the defendants to determine how they will divvy up responsibility for a plaintiff’s damages. It is possible for one defendant that only carries a small amount of liability for the plaintiff’s damages to be responsible for the full amount if that defendant is the only one that can afford to pay damages.
In a case involving multiple defendants, those defendants will likely disagree on which entities are liable for the plaintiff’s damages. For example, a manufacturer purchased parts from a supplier, and the parts were not high quality enough to prevent the defect in question from occurring. A case can quickly become murky in such a situation. For example, the manufacturer may claim the supplier is liable for providing ineffective parts, but the supplier may respond by saying it sold its parts as advertised and the problem lies in the manufacturer’s design. Ultimately, joint and several liability ensures a plaintiff receives compensation from at least one of the responsible parties in a defective product claim.
What Types of Potential Defective Product Compensation Can I Get?
If a defective or dangerous product injured you, the court may award you a certain amount in damages. The court could award you medical expenses, which include hospitalization fees, fees for doctor’s appointments, and any other medical fees you incurred because of the injury.
The court could also award you damages for pain and suffering and emotional distress, which are more difficult to calculate because there is not a specific monetary value. The court bases the damages on how much emotional and physical discomfort and pain you experienced.
You could also receive compensation for lost wages, which includes money lost because you needed days off work to recover. It also includes a loss in earning capacity, if the injury reduced your overall potential earnings.
How Long do i have to File a Dangerous Product Claim in Southern California?
Believe it or not, you only have a limited time to file a product liability case. This is known in the legal world as the Statute of Limitations. According to the California state law, you have up to two years after the injury or incident to file your claim. Note that this is not based on the manufacturer date of the product or the release of the product line, but rather the date of the injury itself.
Why is there a Time Limit?
The reason that there is a set period of time for these cases is that it gives the plaintiff and their legal party plenty of time to compile the evidence needed to present a legitimate claim for the court. On the other hand, it tends to be an issue to find and/or preserve the evidence, so because of this, the courts have capped the time limit to 2 years in the state of California.
Discovery Rule in Product Liability Cases
In some product liability claims, a plaintiff’s damages did not immediately appear. For example, exposure to a harmful substance over a long period of time may make it difficult to determine when the statute of limitations actually starts. California follows a discovery rule for these situations, meaning the plaintiff’s statute of limitations begins on the date of discovery of the harm, or the date the plaintiff should have discovered it through reasonable care and diligence.
It’s important to seek medical treatment as soon as you suspect a defective product harmed you in any way. If you delay seeking treatment after symptoms appear, you may jeopardize your chances of succeeding with a product liability claim. For example, a defective product caused a breathing problem, and you experienced symptoms for months before seeing a doctor. In this situation, the court would likely consider the date your symptoms appeared as the beginning of the statute of limitations and not the date you received your diagnosis.
Plaintiffs with defective product claims must also keep California’s statute of repose in mind. If a defective product caused any harm to your person or property, you have 10 years from the date of purchase to file a defective product claim, regardless of when you discovered or should have discovered the harm.
San Diego Defective Product Attorneys – Free Consultations!
It is essential to work quickly after suffering any type of injury from a defective product or discovering injury from a defective product. This is because of the complexity of most product liability claims and the strict time limits plaintiffs have to file their claims. The right attorney can make a difference in the outcome of your case, so it’s essential to hire an attorney with a strong record of successful product liability cases in California. Our attorneys have handled many product liability claims in the past, and we are certain we can put our resources and skills to work in your case.
Dangerous and defective products can cause serious injuries. The dangerous product attorneys at Estey & Bomberger, LLP have extensive experience with California product liability laws. We will do all we can to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact Estey & Bomberger, LLP for help with your San Diego dangerous product claim. Contact us in San Diego today! (619) 295-0035