Product liability is the area of law under which those who make products available to the public are held responsible for any injuries a defective product causes. Under U.S. laws, the individuals and companies can be held accountable for injuries that the public suffers when using products as intended. A Columbia product liability lawyer can make it possible for you to seek justice and recover compensation for what you’ve been through.
If you choose to file a lawsuit against a manufacturer or other party who was careless or negligent in designing a product or used unsafe materials, you and your family may be able to receive financial compensation that can go toward medical expenses, loss of wage costs, pain and suffering costs, and other associated recovery costs. In addition, the negligent party will be reminded that the health and safety of U.S. consumers must be prioritized.
The attorneys at The Solomon Law Group have successfully handled personal injuries related to defective products on behalf of South Carolina citizens. With access to national experts and a legal understanding of the complexity of defective product litigation, our firm has the expertise to settle your claim.
What Are the Common Types of Product Liability Claims?
A defective product claim can be filed for any type of product which is used as intended and causes serious injury or long-lasting negative health effects. Some of the most common products we help file lawsuits for include the following:
- Defective Equipment. When machinery, tools, or industrial equipment do not work as they’re intended to, users are likely to get hurt. This can be especially dangerous in a factory or construction setting, where multiple people have access to the same defective equipment. One example is cases involving dual-ended earplugs created for U.S. soldiers that caused hearing loss.
- Recreational Equipment and Vehicles. Some people’s hobbies involve recreational vehicles like bicycles, motorcycles, and ATVs. A responsible operator knows how these vehicles function and is likely to have the proper safety equipment. Unfortunately, a defect can result in an accident that can seriously harm the victim because of the exposure associated with these vehicles.
- Dangerous Appliances. Appliances like microwaves, tea kettles, and irons exist to make our lives easier. When these devices are wired improperly, fires are possible and victims could sustain burns.
- Defective Toys. Parents want to provide the best for their children. There are many toys on the market that can be used for educational purposes to promote motor skills, social skills, and perseverance. What is supposed to be a learning opportunity can quickly turn into a hospital trip when manufacturers neglect to properly safety test their products.
- Defective Cars and Auto Parts. We trust our cars will get us to our destination. When an aspect of the vehicle is defective, a breakdown can happen and leave us stranded. If the defect results in the driver losing control of their vehicle, other drivers could be injured, as well. Defective safety devices like airbags, seatbelts, or car seats can result in serious and preventable injuries in the event of a crash.
- Defective Medical Devices. Commonly implanted medical devices like artificial hips and heart valves can cause serious problems in the event they are defective. Patients may experience severe complications and are likely to have to undergo additional surgeries to have the device changed or removed. Operations can put individuals with weak organs at a greater risk of suffering a fatal injury.
- Dangerous Prescription Drugs and Medication. Medications are supposed to make our lives easier. Unfortunately, a dangerous drug can result in complications in the event it reacts with another prescription or does not work in the way that was promised.
- Toxic Chemicals. You may come in contact with more toxic chemicals than you realize. Many of the cleaning products we use can be dangerous if ingested or used improperly. If something like that, however, causes harm after being used properly, the manufacturer can be held accountable.
The products listed above are not the only ones that can be defective. If you’ve been injured by any product, you have the right to contact an attorney and discuss the possibility of a claim.
What Makes Products Defective?
When a product is manufactured and placed on the market, it’s assumed that it will be safe. Products are required to be tested by law, but in some cases, corporations may omit testing phases or find a way to omit certain testing results altogether.
The FDA, for example, has requirements in place for all food, drug, and medical device manufacturers, but companies often find loopholes to testing procedures or find ways to omit test results in order to get their product to market quicker. The reason for doing this often revolves around the bottom line and making as much profit as possible. Many products are also not properly tested for long-term use. This is especially true of medical devices and prescription drugs.
When a product ends up harming an individual or a group of individuals, the manufacturer will generally place a recall on the product once they figure out if the entire line of products needs to be taken off the shelves. Many product recalls can be found on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website. Oftentimes, however, these recalls do not come fast enough.
Product defects usually present in one or more of the following three categories:
- Design Defects. In these cases, the product’s manufacturer, engineer, or designer is usually held liable. These cases often happen when a corporation is trying to make products as cheaply as possible. They may decide to cut corners in designing the product which may make the item unsafe.
- Manufacturing Defects. In these cases, the product manufacturer is generally held liable for injuries. These types of defects may affect a single unit or an entire product line depending on how the defect happened. Was a factory worker distracted and failed to use the correct part? Was a quality checker overworked? Both instances are examples of manufacturer negligence.
- Faulty Labeling. In these instances, a product’s package designer, retailer, distributor, or advertiser may be found liable. All products must be sold with adequate safety warnings in place and must be simple to understand. If these warnings are not in place, consumers may become injured. This is also sometimes what’s known as a “failure to warn.”
Determining the Liable Party in Your Case
When it comes down to determining who is responsible for a defective or dangerous product, there are a number of parties to investigate. The manufacturer is often looked at first. This is because they are the head of the chain of distribution. They are supposed to ensure safety testing is conducted and all the devices are made the same way. If the device involves multiple, complex parts, like a cellphone, there could be multiple manufacturers to blame.
It’s also possible the distributor or wholesaler could be responsible. This party is the middleman in the chain of distribution. If they shipped the product improperly or failed to take proper care when moving the products, they could be accountable.
In addition to the manufacturer and distributor, there’s a chance the retailer could be at fault for your injuries. If they knowingly sold a defective product and you were hurt, you can take action against them. While you may think you need to be the buyer to file a claim against a retailer, this is not the case. You do not have to be the purchaser or the product user. If you were injured when the product was in use, you may be able to recover damages.
Your product liability lawyers will investigate the distribution chain of the product that injured you to determine who should be held responsible for your losses.
Defective Products and Negligence
Product liability lawsuits can be incredibly complex. Generally, there are three possible types of cases depending on the defect and injury. If the case revolves around negligence, the claimant must show that carelessness in the design led to their injuries. To do so, the consumer must show that the defendant had a duty to sell a safe product. Then, it has to be proven that the duty was breached. Finally, it must be demonstrated that the defect caused the injury.
Many cases are pursued under the theory of strict liability. This means that the injured party only has to prove that the defect exists, and harm resulted. If it is proven the defect exists, the manufacturer may be deemed strictly liable for any resulting damages.
Finally, some defective product claims involve a breach of warranty. When a product is sold, there are two warranties a buyer relies on. The express warranty involves any representation of the product and its safety made by the retailer or manufacturer. An implied warranty is a promise by the manufacturer that the product will not cause harm if used as intended. If breach of warranty is deemed to be the issue, any person who would be expected to reasonably use the product is protected.
In all scenarios, it’s important to show that the product was being used as intended. If you purchased a product and did not read the safety warnings or used the product in a way that would be considered unintended by most consumers, your defective product lawsuit may not hold ground in accordance with state laws.
To prove your case, you’ll need the help of an experienced and qualified product liability attorney in Columbia. Expert testimony and sound evidence will be needed to help prove your case. The attorneys at our firm will be able to help you provide both to ensure your case is as solid as it needs to be.
Seeking Compensation for a Defective Product
Calculating your damages relating to a product liability claim is a complex process. Damages fall into two categories: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages compensate plaintiffs for their injuries by attaching a value to each specific loss. Punitive damages serve to punish the negligent party.
Compensatory damages are further split into two categories. Economic damages refer to those that are calculable based on the real dollar amount lost by the plaintiff as a result of their injury. Economic compensation typically covers medical expenses, the cost of disability, lost wages, and property damage. Noneconomic damages are much harder to quantify, as they’re not based on numerical figures. Instead, they cover factors like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and loss of consortium. Determinations are typically made based on similar cases from the past, but the size of noneconomic awards varies greatly.
Punitive damages are not available in all situations, as they only arise when significant recklessness or intentional neglect played a role in producing, distributing, or selling the defective product.
How Can You Benefit from an Experienced Attorney?
If you’ve been injured by a dangerous product, you may be considering handling the claims process on your own or figuring out a way to pay your bills without taking legal action. Our lawyers, however, advise against this. Working with an experienced, respected law firm is the only way to maximize your chances of holding the negligent party accountable and receiving the compensation you need to move forward.
When you work with us, a product liability lawyer from our firm will evaluate the validity of your claim and give you an honest and realistic idea of what you can expect. Our lawyers will be with you through the entire process, so you never have to handle difficult conversations or confusing paperwork on your own.
While the majority of claims settle outside of court, we’re not afraid to go to trial and go up against corporations to ensure you have the means to cover your losses.
Contact The Solomon Law Group Today
If you or a loved one has been injured or died after using a defective product, contact a Columbia product liability lawyer at The Solomon Law Group for a free consultation. It’s crucial to remember you are under a time limit to file your claim. In South Carolina, the statute of limitations allows victims three years for product liability claims related to personal injury, wrongful death, and property damage. If a breach of warranty is discovered, the victim has six years. Neglecting to file within this time will result in a dismissed case.
Don’t miss out on your opportunity to receive the compensation you need to get your life back in order. We’re happy to speak with residents and their families in Columbia or anywhere in South Carolina. With our expertise, you and your family can find the road to recovery while ensuring the guilty product manufacturer doesn’t harm anyone else again.