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In a world filled with modern conveniences, it's easy to overlook the dangers the products we trust can pose to our everyday lives. We trust that their products are safe, thoroughly tested, and free from hidden risks. From the medicines we take on a regular basis, to the vehicles we rely on for safe transportation and the playground equipment our children play on, we put our faith in the hands of manufacturers and distributors. But what happens when that trust is betrayed?
All too frequently, profit-driven manufacturers hide poor design and ugly truths behind sleek packaging and reassuring ad campaigns. This corporate negligence has serious consequences on individuals and families. When you pick up your prescription from the pharmacy, you expect the medication to make you better, not leave you hospitalized with organ failure. You expect that when your child goes out to play on the trampoline, you won't find them paralyzed a few hours later due to a missing spring.
Most of us have heard horror stories of past defective products - from the Dalkon Shield IUDs that caused sterility and death in the 1970s and '80s to the Firestone tires that led to rollover accidents in the '90s to the dangerous arthritis medication, Vioxx, that rocked the pharmaceutical industry in the mid-2000s by causing heart attacks and strokes in tens of thousands of patients. Recent cases, like exploding Takata airbags spewing shrapnel at drivers (and causing the largest vehicle recall in history), defective Exactech knee, hip and ankle implants breaking down inside patients, and Johnson & Johnson baby powder causing ovarian cancer show that despite advancements in technology, regulation, and consumer awareness, companies have not always learned from past mistakes. Defective products are still being manufactured, distributed, and sold - leading to devastating consequences for unsuspecting consumers.
If you've been harmed by a defective product, our lawyers are ready to defend your rights. Our lawyers have uncovered coverups, forced accountability, and delivered justice on the behalf of hundreds of clients. We understand the turmoil that defective products leave in their wake, and wish to assure you that your rights, well-being, and future are worth protecting - and our defective product lawyers are here to ensure that your voice is heard. Don't wait - contact our attorneys today at 877-715-9300 or through our website for a free consultation.
What is a Defective Product?
Defective products are not confined to a single industry or type. They can encompass anything from faulty medical devices and hazardous drugs to malfunctioning auto parts and consumer goods. What qualifies a product as defective? It's when a car's brakes fail to engage properly, causing a collision. When an oven spontaneously heats up overnight, causing a fire risk. When the adorable plush toy marketed for infants detaches tiny buttons that can become lodged in a baby's windpipe. If a product fails or malfunctions in ways that consumers have no reason to anticipate, despite using it properly, it crosses the line from ordinary liability to legally defective. When product flaws and unforeseeable hazards cause substantial harm, the manufacturer may be held responsible through a products liability claim. Not every injury points to a defect, but when products betray consumers' safety, manufacturers should be held accountable.
Types of Product Defects
Defective products span countless industries and product categories. Products can be flawed in a variety of different ways, and each type of defect can lead to distinct legal challenges. Understanding the types of defects and claims can be key to obtaining compensation if you are harmed.
There are three primary ways in which a product may be defective:
1. Manufacturing Defects
A manufacturing defect arises when an error during production or assembly causes the final product to differ from the intended design. If even one item departs from specifications due to a manufacturing mistake and leaves the factory in a flawed state, it can be deemed defective. Examples of this might include:
A bicycle wheel that wasn't properly attached and falls off, causing injury
A pacemaker with an internal short circuit that delivers random electrical jolts
An infant car seat that doesn't latch securely due to a production glitch
2. Design Defects
If the product's design is inherently defective or unreasonably hazardous in its very nature, this constitutes a design defect. Even when manufactured to specifications, the flawed design can still render the product unsafe for normal use. Some examples include:
A lawn mower fuel tank cap that easily detaches, allowing flammable fuel to spill out
Hip implant components that grind together, shedding toxic metallic debris into the body
An SUV prone to deadly rollovers due to a high center of gravity
3. Inadequate Warnings/Instructions
If the manufacturer is aware of dangers in the product's intended use but does not caution users through proper warnings, the failure to alert consumers to these hazards can make the product defective. For example:
Prescription drugs lacking warnings about severe side effects
Power tools without instructions about proper protective gear
Children's toys with small parts that pose a choking hazard but lack safety labels
Types of Defective Product Claims
Based on the three types of product defects, there are three main legal theories under which defective product claims arise:
1. Manufacturing Defect
With a manufacturing defect, the focus is on whether that particular product was flawed in its construction compared to others of the same design. If the product deviates from the manufacturer's own specifications during production, it is defective. The plaintiff must show that a specific error in manufacturing made that product unsafe and caused their injuries.
2. Design Defect
A design defect claim asserts that the product is inherently defective and unreasonably dangerous because of its design. The standard is whether an ordinary consumer would consider the product design unreasonably dangerous for normal usage. The entire product line must be defective, not just one item.
3. Failure to Warn
If the manufacturer fails to provide adequate warning about potential risks or dangers in the product's foreseeable use, the lack of warning can render the product defective. The plaintiff must show the manufacturer knew or reasonably should have known about the danger requiring a warning.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Defective Product Injuries?
Many parties throughout the design, production, and distribution chain can share responsibility when a defective product causes harm:
Product Designers - if an unsafe design with inherent risks makes a product unfit for intended use, the designers may be liable.
Manufacturers - the company that actually produced the defective product will often bear primary liability.
Component Part Makers - if a defective component - like a faulty brake pad - contributed to the product's failure, that part's supplier may share blame.
Distributors - businesses that distributed or sold the product, such as wholesalers, retailers, or dealers, may also be responsible.
Marketing Agencies - firms that promoted an inherently dangerous product without adequate safety warnings may bear some degree of liability.
It's important to note that the injured party does not need to be the one who originally purchased the product. Bystanders, borrowers, gift recipients and others hurt by a defective product can potentially file claims against the responsible parties. When faulty products cause innocents to suffer severe injuries or wrongful death, our attorneys work to secure maximum compensation on your behalf.
Mass Torts, Class Actions, and Defective Products
When a defective product affects numerous people across the country, it may lead to mass tort litigation or class action lawsuits. In mass tort, many plaintiffs harmed by the same product come together in consolidated litigation against the manufacturer, streamlining cases that would otherwise be litigated separately. On the other hand, class actions involve injured consumers with similar claims seeking class action status, allowing them to sue as a group represented by class counsel. This approach can combine hundreds or even thousands of injury claims against the defendant.
In both scenarios, group litigation can apply more pressure and gain leverage against large corporate defendants. It also helps share litigation costs and resources. An experienced defective products lawyer can advise whether joining multi-plaintiff litigation makes sense in your specific case.
Defective Products and Medical Malpractice
When a flawed medical product, such as a defective implant or a dangerous drug, causes harm, patients are not left without legal recourse. In fact, they may have multiple avenues to pursue for compensation and justice. These avenues typically involve legal actions against both the product manufacturer and the doctor or medical provider involved in the treatment.
First, let's explore the two main legal practice areas involved in these cases:
1. Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice law is designed to address cases where a healthcare provider, such as a doctor or surgeon, has been negligent or failed to meet the standard of care expected in their profession. In the context of defective medical products, this might include improper surgical techniques or inadequate patient monitoring during or after a procedure. If a medical professional's actions or inactions directly contribute to patient harm, medical malpractice law applies.
2. Product Liability
On the other hand, product liability law deals specifically with cases where a defective or dangerous product, such as a malfunctioning medical device or a pharmaceutical drug with harmful side effects, causes harm to consumers. In these cases, the focus is on holding the product manufacturer or distributor accountable for producing or supplying a product that poses unreasonable risks to users.
Now, the intersection of these two areas of law is where it gets interesting. In situations where a defective medical product has caused harm, patients may have grounds to pursue both medical malpractice and product liability claims. This dual approach can potentially maximize the chances of recovery and the amount of compensation received.
For instance, if a patient received a defective medical implant that was improperly inserted by a surgeon, both the manufacturer of the implant and the surgeon may share responsibility for the resulting harm. By collaborating with both a medical malpractice lawyer and our defective products team, you can leverage legal strategies to hold all responsible parties accountable. This comprehensive approach aims to secure the best possible outcome for the injured patient.
Navigating the complexities of these cases requires legal expertise and a deep understanding of both medical and product liability law. If you or a loved one has been harmed by a defective medical product, don't hesitate to seek legal advice and representation. An experienced lawyer can help you explore all available legal options to ensure your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you need.
Strict Liability vs. Negligence
Most defective product claims involve strict liability and negligence theories. Negligence requires showing the manufacturer acted unreasonably or failed to act with proper care to avoid defects. The plaintiff must prove the company owed a duty of care, breached that duty, and the breach caused the plaintiff's injuries. Strict liability focuses on the condition of the product itself, not the conduct of the manufacturer. The plaintiff must show the product was defective, but does not need to prove the company was careless in creating a product with defects.
Pursuing a Defective Product Claim:
In a product liability lawsuit, it's crucial to understand the fundamental elements that need to be proven to establish a strong case. When pursuing such a claim, the burden of proof typically falls on the plaintiff, who must demonstrate the following key factors:
The plaintiff must provide evidence that the product in question contained a defect. This defect can arise from various sources, such as a flaw in the product's design, a manufacturing error, or inadequate warnings or instructions for its safe use.
It's not enough to show a defect; the plaintiff must also establish that this defect rendered the product unreasonably dangerous. In essence, the defect must exceed the level of danger that a reasonable consumer would anticipate when using such a product in its intended manner.
To build a strong case, it's essential to demonstrate that the defect existed at the time the product left the possession of the manufacturer or distributor. This ensures that the product was already flawed when it entered the market and reached the hands of the consumer.
A critical element in any defective product claim is proving that the plaintiff's injuries were directly caused by the product's defect. Establishing a clear link between the defect and the resulting harm is essential to hold the manufacturer or distributor liable.
Ultimately, liability in a defective product lawsuit revolves around whether the product's defect goes beyond what a reasonable consumer would anticipate in terms of safety. To build a strong case, you need a lawyer to thoroughly investigate the incident and gather both expert testimony and compelling evidence.
Frequently Asked Questions
First, seek any needed medical treatment and document your injuries. Save the product if possible. Next, report the incident to the manufacturer and relevant government agency. Don't forget to photograph damages and keep records of all expenses . Finally, contact a Wettermark Keith products liability attorney to discuss your case.
Each state has its own statute of limitations for defective product claims, typically ranging from 1-4 years in most states. Your lawyer can help ensure this deadline does not pass before you have the opportunity to seek justice.
If successful in a products liability case, you may recover economic damages like medical costs, lost income, loss of future earning capacity, and property damage. Non-economic damages for pain/suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and emotional distress may also be awarded. In some cases, punitive damages are permitted to punish egregious conduct by the manufacturer.
Defective product cases can be very complex legally and procedurally. Having an experienced lawyer on your side is crucial to showing the product was defective and caused your injuries, calculating full damages, negotiating the highest settlement, and taking the case to trial if needed.
Our defective product lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning legal fees are never paid out-of-pocket, and no upfront payment is required. If there is no recovery, you pay nothing in fees. All costs will be advanced by your attorney and reimbursed from settlement proceeds.
Many states apply comparative negligence rules in defective product cases. This means you can still recover damages, but your compensation is reduced by the percentage you were responsible. If you live in a comparative negligence state, your attorney will seek to minimize any fault on your side.
Many defective products claims settle out of court through negotiation and mediation. However, our attorneys are fully prepared to take your case to trial if the manufacturer does not agree to an acceptable settlement. Your lawyer's skill in advocacy will give you leverage to obtain the best settlement possible.
Bankruptcy filings by the manufacturer can stay lawsuits and complicate recovery, but they do not prevent products liability claims. Experienced lawyers know how to navigate around bankruptcy issues to still hold the company accountable. Compensation may be obtained from other sources like insurers as well.
Look for lawyers with extensive experience in product liability and defective product claims specifically. Check client reviews and case results. Ensure they have resources to hire experts, fully investigate the claim, take the case to trial if required, and deliver maximum compensation.
What Damages Can I Expect?
In your pursuit of compensation for a defective product, a variety of damages may be available to address the challenges you have faced:
Medical Expenses - compensation for medical costs incurred due to defective products, including future anticipated expenditures.
Lost Income - reimbursement for earnings lost because of the product's impact on your ability to work.
Pain and Suffering - coverage for both physical and emotional distress resulting from the defective product.
Property Damage - financial reparation for damage to property caused by defective products.
Punitive Damages - in exceptional circumstances where the manufacturer's actions were particularly reprehensible, punitive damages may be awarded both as a deterrent and a punitive measure for defective products.
Loss of a Loved One - in the tragic event of a loved one's death due to a defective product, you may seek compensation for funeral expenses and the loss of support.
The specific damages you can expect to receive depend on the unique circumstances of your case, the severity of your injuries, and the extent of your losses. While we realize no amount of money can undo what you have experienced as a result of a product defect, compensation may help with medical bills, lost wages, or other challenges. Our attorneys are prepared to obtain on your behalf an adequate compensation figure that meets your needs.
Call Wettermark Keith's Defective Product Attorneys Today
Proving a defective product claim can be complex, especially when establishing specifically how the product was defective, how it caused your injuries, and exactly who is responsible. Our lawyers can help build a strong case on your behalf - this includes gathering evidence, determining all viable legal claims, advocating fiercely for fair compensation from the manufacturer, and if necessary, taking your case to trial. Our experienced defective product liability attorneys have a proven record of representing injury victims nationwide in cases involving dangerous consumer goods, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and more.
Your lawyer will work tirelessly to ensure you receive full restitution for medical expenses, lost income, pain, suffering, and a reduced quality of life due to defective products. No company is exempt from the law, and we will tirelessly pursue justice for those affected. Don't wait - schedule your free consultation today at 877-715-9300 or through our website. During this free evaluation, we will listen to your story and thoroughly assess the details of your case.
Wettermark Keith, with offices located throughout Alabama, Tennessee, and Florida, has an excellent reputation as one of the most accomplished personal injury firms in the country. Our reach is not only regional but includes a diverse range of practice areas, including premises liability law, personal injury cases, auto wrecks, trucking wrecks, nursing home abuse, medical malpractice, on-the-job injuries, social security disability, and veterans’ disability claims, to name just a few. At Wettermark Keith, we believe in taking cases personally. Our purpose is to practice with care and compassion- to tell our clients’ stories and make their voices heard. We do this by building strong relationships based on constant communication and an unwavering dedication to truth and trust. You should never wonder what’s going on with your case. We will keep you in the loop and represent you as if you are family- because to us, you are.
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