For many of us, the trust we place in the products we purchase is implicit. We assume their safety and reliability, so when a defective product causes harm, it feels like a betrayal and raises questions about our legal rights and avenues for redress.
The good news is that you can file a personal injury claim in most cases if you’ve been injured by a defective product. Contact a Kansas City product liability lawyer to get specific advice about how to bring a successful product liability claim in your case, and read on to learn more generally about defective products and personal injury claims.
Types of Product Defects
These defects come from flaws in the initial blueprint of a product. If a product is inherently dangerous due to its design, even when manufactured perfectly, it falls under this category. For example, if a children’s toy is designed in a way that poses a choking hazard, it has a design defect.
Manufacturing defects occur during the production process. Even if the design is sound, errors in the manufacturing stage can render a product harmful. An example of this might be a medical device that becomes contaminated at the factory.
When manufacturers or other entities in the supply chain fail to provide adequate warnings or instructions about a product’s potential dangers, this constitutes a marketing defect.
Failing to include a warning label or not adequately communicating the risks associated with using a product, like potential side effects of a drug, are typical examples.
Who Is Liable in a Product Liability Lawsuit?
Liability in a product liability lawsuit can be widespread. Typically, the manufacturer is the first entity your Kansas City product liability attorney will look at, but others in the supply chain might also be held accountable.
It is not uncommon for a retailer or distributor to be pulled into a product liability case. Manufacturers have a duty to report defects to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, for example, and if a retailer continued to sell a product knowing it was defective, they could also be liable.
Negligence in Product Liability
Negligence implies that the defendant failed to act with the level of care a reasonable entity would have in a similar situation: but in product liability claims, the doctrine of “strict liability” applies. Your Kansas City product liability lawyer will tell you whether this applies in your case.
What Is “Strict Liability?”
This term refers to a situation where a defendant is held liable for causing harm irrespective of their intent or level of caution. When applied to product liability, it means that manufacturers, distributors, or sellers can be held liable for damages caused by their products, regardless of whether they were negligent or took all necessary precautions to ensure the product’s safety.
The central tenet behind this type of liability is that certain activities or products inherently carry risks that can harm the public, even if the utmost care is taken. Those responsible for introducing the product into the market should bear the responsibility if something goes wrong.
No Need to Prove Negligence
Unlike other claims where the injured party must show that the defendant acted negligently, in a strict liability case, the focus shifts to the product itself.
If it can be demonstrated that the product was defective and caused harm, that often suffices for a claim.
Product Was Unaltered
For strict liability to apply, the product must have been used in the way it was intended, without alterations from its original state.
Product Sold in the Regular Course of Business
Typically, strict liability applies to entities that regularly engage in the business of selling or distributing products.
A person who occasionally sells something, like in a garage sale, can’t normally be sued in the same way as a manufacturer, even if they sold something that was lacking instructions or warnings.
Evidence and Proof in a Product Liability Claim: Working With Your Kansas City Product Liability Attorney
In any legal action, evidence is key. Injured individuals must prove that the product was defective and that the defect directly caused their injuries. Medical records detailing the injury, expert testimonials about the defective nature of the product, and any proof of the manufacturer’s knowledge of the defect can be invaluable.
Additionally, preserving the product, capturing photos of the defect, and maintaining records of any accident that occurred can aid in building a robust product liability claim.
Remember, every situation is unique. While some cases might involve a workers’ compensation claim due to workplace injuries caused by a defective product, others might evolve into a wrongful death lawsuit if the injury is severe and results in the tragic loss of life. Only a lawyer can help you decide the best avenue for compensation in your specific case.
Injuries and Compensation
In product liability cases, injuries can vary, from temporary discomfort to long-term complications, serious injury, or even wrongful death. The nature and extent of your injury play a significant role in determining the compensation you may be entitled to.
Your lawyer can help you understand everything for which you can recover damages and give you an idea of the worth of your case. Some of what you can recover may include:
Medical Expenses and Lost Wages
Many injured by a defective product face not only physical harm but also financial strain. Medical bills can accumulate quickly, especially if the injury demands ongoing medical treatment. In situations where an injury prevents an individual from working, lost wages add to the financial burden. In such cases, it’s crucial to recover damages to offset these costs.
Pain, Suffering, and Mental Anguish
Beyond the immediate physical repercussions, defective products can lead to emotional and psychological trauma. The mental anguish associated with a serious injury or the loss of a loved one can be debilitating. Compensation for such non-economic damages is harder to quantify but is an essential aspect of many product liability claims.
Establishing a Successful Product Liability Claim
First, there should be clear evidence of a defect in the product. Product defects, whether a design defect in medical devices, manufacturing defects in yard tools, or marketing defects in children’s toys, should be the direct cause of your injury.
Further, there needs to be demonstrable harm. Merely proving a product is defective without showing it caused your injury might not be sufficient grounds for compensation. For example, if someone uses a defective medical device, but does not suffer any adverse effects, their claim will not be as strong as someone who experienced severe complications.
Lastly, evidence is paramount. Medical records, proof of the defect, witness testimonies, and any correspondence with the manufacturer or other entity can strengthen your claim.
Two primary types of warranties are associated with products: express and implied.
This is a clear promise made by the manufacturer or seller about the product. It could be in the form of written statements on labels, advertisements, or even verbal promises. A breach of this warranty can form the basis of a legal claim.
Even when there’s no express warranty, the law often assumes an implied warranty of merchantability. This means the product should reasonably conform to an average person’s expectations. If a brand-new toaster catches fire the first time it’s used, this breaches the implied warranty.
Seeking Legal Counsel From a Kansas City Product Liability Lawyer
If you believe you have been injured due to a defective product, seeking legal counsel is the next logical step. A personal injury lawyer experienced in product liability can guide you through the process, helping you understand your rights and the best course of action. They can aid in gathering evidence, liaising with insurance companies, and ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.
If you’ve suffered serious injuries and are considering a product liability lawsuit in Kansas City, Holman Schiavone, LLC is the place to turn. We are committed to upholding the rights of consumers and ensuring that manufacturers and other entities are held responsible for the products they bring to market. Contact us at 816-399-5149 right away for a free consultation.