As a consumer of a product, you have a right to expect that it will be safe for its intended use and that any potential dangers are clearly stated so that you can take steps to mitigate them.
When manufacturers fail to take steps to protect their consumers and their actions cause injury, they could be liable for all resulting damages. If you or someone you love has been injured by a defective product or inadequate warnings, then you may have a right to bring a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
At Holman Schiavone Law, LLC, our Kansas City product liability attorneys have the skills, resources, and experience necessary to become your fiercest advocates. We are uniquely prepared to represent clients in even the most complex product liability cases, such as those involving medical equipment, asbestos materials, automobile parts, children’s toys, and more.
Call us today at 816-320-6108 to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Kansas City product liability lawyer.
What is Product Liability Law?
Product liability is a legal term used to describe the liability of manufacturers and sellers of products to compensate consumers or bystanders for injuries caused by defects in the product.
Product liability law describes the area of law governing product liability litigation. In order to have a successful claim, your attorney will need to prove that the product was defective and that it caused your injuries.
The court uses two standards to assess whether a product is defective. Firstly, the consumer expectation standard considers the nature of the product and its intended use. Under this doctrine, the product is defective if the danger is unknowable and unacceptable to the consumer.
Secondly, the risk-utility standard states that if the risk of harm outweighs the benefits, then the product is defective. Under this doctrine, the court will consider the instructions and warnings, any foreseeable harm, any available substitutes of the product, and the expectations of consumers from the marketing of the product.
Under product liability law, manufacturers have a duty to ensure their products are safe, meet consumer expectations, and that any risks are made clear. If they fail in their duty and someone is injured or killed as a result, whether the consumer or a bystander, then the affected party could be owed compensation.
How Can Products Be Defective?
A product defect is any characteristic that inhibits its usability for its intended purpose. Generally, there are three different ways that a product can be defective, manufacturing error, design failure, or inadequate warnings.
Manufacturing errors occur when the design of the product is safe, but the product is manufactured incorrectly. For example, perhaps the wrong materials are used, are put together incorrectly, or harmful chemicals are used during the production process.
Often when there is an error in the manufacturing process, the defects are not present in every product and only in certain batches. The error could be a person’s mistake or the error of a machine. Your product liability attorney will investigate your case to determine exactly what caused your injuries and who is liable.
Other times, the design itself is inherently flawed, so the product and all like it need to be recalled. Most cases involving design failure involve strict liability, which means that it is not necessary to prove negligence in order for you to be eligible for compensation.
One example is the Bard PowerPort, which was a medical device designed to administer medication to patients requiring ongoing treatment, such as cancer patients. The device has been shown to degrade and fracture, causing serious injuries such as infections, blood clots, pulmonary embolism, and even death. Thanks to pressure from consumers and their attorneys, the products have now been recalled.
When you take action against product manufacturers, you can help protect others from suffering in the same way you have. They are often difficult cases to prove, especially when they involve large medical manufacturers. However, an experienced Kansas City product liability attorney will give you the best chance at securing justice.
If a product does not carry sufficient instructions and information for the consumer, then the manufacturer could be liable for the victim’s damages. The consumer can not be expected to use a product safely if they are not fully informed about how to use it and the potential dangers. A common example is prescription drugs that do not fully disclose all potential side effects.
What Should I Do if I Have Suffered an Injury From a Defective Product?
When you suffer an injury due to a defective product, there are certain steps you can take to protect your health as well as your right to compensation.
Seek Medical Assistance
Your first priority should be your health. If necessary, call an ambulance to the scene of the accident. If your injuries are not serious enough to warrant paramedics at the scene, then seek a medical examination as quickly as possible. Not only will this help to protect your health and ensure that you get the help you need, but your medical record will also serve as an integral piece of evidence in your case.
File a Report
If your injury occurred in the workplace, then you should file an official report as soon as possible. Again, this will serve as important evidence and may be a requirement of your employer.
Another example of where you may need to file a report is if your injury was a result of a defective automobile part. Your insurance company may need you to inform them that you have been in an accident quickly.
In both instances, it is important that you remain vague and do not say anything that could harm your case. Do not admit fault in any way or speculate that you may have misused the product. Once you have representation with an attorney, they will take over the negotiations with insurance companies to ensure that your rights are protected.
It is essential that you keep the product in the same condition as when it caused you harm. If you still have the packaging for their product, receipts, or any documents that came with it then you should also keep these safe.
If the product caused an accident that left behind visible damage, such as a car accident, burns marks, broken glass, etc., then you should also take photos of the scene.
If there are any witnesses, and your injuries allow, then you should collect their contact information so that your attorney can contact them.
We also recommend that you keep a diary detailing your injuries and the effect that they are having on your life; this could serve as important evidence when determining what you are owed in compensation.
Contact Holman Schiavone Law, LLC
To maximize your chances at compensation, you should contact a Kansas City product liability attorney as soon as possible. The sooner, the better, as they will protect vital evidence, investigate on your half, and negotiate with the at-fault party.
Do I Really Need a Kansas City Product Liability Lawyer?
Product liability is a form of personal injury. However, they are often more difficult to prove than other personal injury cases, such as car accident claims. Although you are well within your rights to pursue compensation without the help of a lawyer, those who do are often left with less than they deserve.
Large product manufacturers will employ skilled legal teams whose only job it is to save them money by limiting the amount that they pay out to victims. When you have an experienced product liability law firm, such as Holman Schiavone Law, LLC, representing you, you level the playing field.
We are always prepared to take a case to court, and insurance defense lawyers know this. That means that they are much more likely to offer a fair settlement to avoid losing more in a court case.
Our Kansas City product liability lawyers will investigate your dangerous or defective product, collect evidence, determine the value of your claim, liaise with experts, and negotiate on your behalf. Our goal is for you to recover compensation that truly reflects your damages.
How Are Product Liability Lawsuits Proven?
In order to have a defective product claim, your attorney will either need to prove negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty. Your attorney will assess your case to determine which avenue will give you the best chance of success.
Most product liability claims fall under strict liability. Strict liability places the focus on the product itself rather than the actions of the manufacturer. If a product can be shown to be unreasonably dangerous, then the manufacturer could be held liable even if they did not behave negligently when making the product.
Strict liability removes the need to prove that anyone behaved negligently. This avenue can help secure compensation for victims of defective products where they may have otherwise been unable to.
For example, if a manufacturer did not intend to cause harm, was unaware that there were any dangers, and took appropriate measures to ensure that their product was safe, then under strict liability, they could still be liable for the victim’s damages.
Breach of Warranty
Breach of warranty places liability on a product manufacturer when the product does not work for its intended purpose. It could be based on express warranty, where the manufacturer makes an affirmative promise that the product will fulfill a particular purpose or last a set amount of time.
In order to prove negligence, your Kansas City product liability lawyer will need to prove the following four elements:
- Duty of Care – The first element of negligence involves establishing that the at-fault party owed you a duty of care. All manufacturers owe a duty of care to their consumers.
- Breach – Next, your attorney will need to establish that the at-fault party breached their duty of care. For example, they failed to properly test their product to ensure that it was safe for the intended use. This is often the most difficult element to prove.
- Causation – The negligence of the at-fault party must have directly caused your injuries in order for you to have a valid claim. For example, if the product exploded and left you with burn injuries, then this is clear causation.
- Damages – Finally, you must have sustained damages as a result of your injuries, such as medical bills and lost wages.
How Much Compensation Could I Claim in a Product Liability Lawsuit in Kansas City?
Every product liability claim is unique, and how much you can claim will depend upon the value of your damages, as well as the quality of your representation. Most product liability claims involve the following damages:
Sometimes a defective product can result in property damage. For example, a defective car part could cause a car accident that damages your vehicle. Another example could be a defective kitchen appliance that explodes and causes damage to other furniture.
Any medical expenses resulting from the injuries caused by the defective product should be compensated for. That could include hospital bills, transport to and from appointments, physiotherapy, medication costs, and more.
If your injuries are ongoing, then you should also be compensated for your future medical costs. Your Kansas City product liability attorney may draw upon expert testimony to determine what your ongoing treatment is likely to cost.
If your injuries prevent you from working, then you should be compensated for your lost wages. If your injuries prevent you from returning to work in the same capacity, then you should also be compensated for the loss of earning potential.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is the legal term for the emotional anguish you have suffered as a result of your injuries. That includes physical pain, and the effect on your quality of life. For example, if your injuries prevent you from participating in a hobby you once enjoyed, then this should be considered in your settlement.
Pain and suffering damages are often highly contentious. At Holman Schiavone Law, LLC, we take the time to understand what effect your injuries have had on your life so that we can provide strong evidence for your damages.
If you have lost a loved one due to a defective product, then you may be owed compensation. No amount of money can begin to heal your grief, but it can ensure that you are not left suffering financially. An experienced attorney will take over your case so that you can focus on being with your family without the stress of a legal battle.
Contact Holman Schiavone Law, LLC Today For a Free Consultation
When defective products cause injuries or death, it is important that victims are properly compensated. It is also essential that liable parties are held accountable and products are recalled to prevent more unnecessary suffering.
At Holman Schiavone Law, LLC, our experienced attorneys have a proven track record of helping victims of defective products secure the compensation they deserve. We offer a free consultation so that everyone has the opportunity to seek quality legal advice and gain clarity about their next steps.