When you buy or use a product, you are trusting your health and well-being to the company that makes or sells it. In a sense, you are often putting your life in the hands of a company when you buy a car, some food, or even prescription drugs. The product should work as intended.
You never expect that one of these products will injure you or a loved one. Unfortunately, that is the case, as nearly 30 million people are injured each year by defective products. These injuries range from very minor to severe. Over 20,000 people die every year of injuries from defective products.
When that happens, Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers are here to take on the corporations that make, distribute, or sell unsafe products, get you the justice you deserve, punish the wrongdoers, and hopefully protect others like you from buying something that injures them. Whether dangerous drugs or other products, we’ve won millions for people like you. Call now to see if we can do the same for you.
Who Is Responsible for a Defective Product?
Companies cannot just get away with selling you a dangerous product. When you buy a product, several companies owe you a duty of care.
- The manufacturer
- The seller
- The designer
- Any middlemen
All of these companies are part of the “stream of commerce.” If a defective product injures you, you can hold any one of them liable in a lawsuit. It does not matter which one caused the defect. Who pays how much of your verdict is not your concern.
Examples of Defective Products that Can Injure You
Defective products touch all areas of your life.
Even eating breakfast in your kitchen can hurt you:
- The toaster that you use can spark and cause a fire
- The breakfast food that you eat can be tainted with salmonella
- The jar that you use to store your food can have a defective lid and cut you
When you leave the house, you are at risk of suffering an injury due to defective products.
- Your car’s brakes may not work when you tap them, causing a crash
- You suffered an injury due to a defective power tool that you use on the job
- A defective tire on your motorcycle can cause your bike to skid
There are many more examples of defective products that can injure. You may not think of the medical devices that doctors use in the hospitals as products, but they fall within the definition of product liability law. For example, the small piece of mesh that a doctor inserts in hernia surgery is a product, and you may be paid compensation when it injures you.
What to Do After a Defective Product Has Injured You
There is practically not a day that goes by that you do not read of a large-scale recall that affects products that Americans use every day. Each one of these recalls has a story. Some of them may have come after product users suffered devastating and catastrophic injuries. Other families find out after their loved one died that a medication that a doctor prescribed contained a cancer-causing substance.
Regardless of the product or the nature of the injury, you deserve financial compensation when a defective product injures you.
The chances are that you are reading this after you have suffered an injury due to a product that you believe was defective.
Here is what you should do:
- Try to keep the product intact (to the extent that you can) and save it to give to an attorney never give it back to the store or manufacturer
- Get medical help to treat your injuries and get documentation of how you have suffered
- Contact an attorney to investigate your case and pursue financial compensation
Hiring an experienced attorney is a must. Product liability cases are not easy ones by any stretch. If a product has injured you, you can assume it injured others, too. Few defective products only hurt one person.
Product Liability Lawsuits Present Huge Problems for Companies
When a company has sold a dangerous product, it may be on the hook for significant damages. Product liability claims often become mass tort cases.
Here are some recent examples:
- Bayer, the company that bought the makers of Roundup weed killer, agreed to a settlement of over $10 billion to pay victims who developed lymphoma after exposure to the toxic substance (although the settlement has not concluded yet)
- American Home Products agreed to a settlement of $3.75 billion when its diet product Fen-Phen caused heart attacks in patients.
- Asbestos makers and companies that made products containing asbestos have paid tens of billions of dollars for cases of cancer that came from exposure to the substance.
- Agricultural workers have found themselves dealing with Parkinson’s disease from exposure to the herbicide paraquat.
You can understand why defendant companies will initially fight these cases with everything they have. They get high-powered and expensive lawyers to use every tactic possible to defend them because they know that these defective products can cost them billions of dollars. You need an attorney who can go the distance with these law firms because that is exactly what it takes to win one of these cases. The initial cases for any product defect can last for years and can involve extensive litigation.
Legal Theories in Product Liability Cases
Your lawyer may use several legal grounds to try to hold the defendant liable in your case. The legal rule is that the defendant will be strictly liable if you can prove that the product was defective.
There are three primary types of product defects:
- Design defect – this is often the most common allegation in a product liability case. Here, you will allege that there was an inherent flaw in the design that made the product unreasonably dangerous. An example of this is the placement of the gas tank in the Ford Pinto that caused the vehicle to explode on impact.
- Manufacturing defect – here, there is nothing wrong with the design. However, something happened during the manufacturing process that made the product unreasonably dangerous. A recent example of this type of defect is a carcinogen that was introduced into the popular blood pressure medication Valsartan when it was undergoing production in China and India.
- Marketing defect – this is also a common allegation in many product liability cases. Companies often know or have reason to know of defects in their products. Still, those companies market and sell their products without any warning to the general public. They need to either fix the problem or include a warning that lets the consumer make informed decisions about whether to buy the product. When companies bury knowledge of product defects, it makes juries very angry.
Suppose plaintiffs can prove any one of these three above defects, very little else matters. Unless one of a very few limited defenses apply, the company will always have to pay for the plaintiff’s injuries.
In addition, plaintiffs will also use the following arguments in product liability cases:
- Someone was negligent in the design, manufacturing, or selling process. The defendant owes you a duty of care as the product buyer, and they breached this duty by acting unreasonably. This is another way of saying that the defendant was careless.
- Plaintiffs will also always allege that the seller breached implied or express warranties that go along with a product.
- State law almost always governs product liability claims, and each lawsuit will cite it.
- Many plaintiffs will allege that the defendant committed fraud.
Average Settlements in Product Liability Cases
Companies try to settle cases once they realize that they have a losing set of facts on their hands. For example, Bayer lost several lawsuits, and juries slapped the company with sky-high punitive damages. The juries were angered by what they viewed as gross examples of horrible corporate behavior. Eventually, Bayer realized that it needed to enter into a global settlement to protect its own continued existence, given the tens of billions of dollars of possible liability.
Many product liability cases end up in global settlements. You will file a claim against the settlement fund (if you choose to accept the settlement) and receive a settlement check based on your unique damages and harm.
Damages in Your Product Liability Lawsuit
We cannot tell you what the average settlement amount is in a product liability case.
It can depend on:
- Your damages
- The amount of corporate money and insurance available to pay for damages
- The number of plaintiffs that there are in a case
A product liability case can result in considerable damages. Your claim must put you in the same position financially as if the product never injured you.
Your damages can include:
- Lost wages for the time that you missed from work or any reduction in your earning capacity
- The cost of all of your medical expenses to treat your injuries (including doctor’s visits, hospitalization, medical equipment, rehabilitation, prescriptions, etc.)
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Wrongful death damages if your loved one died from a defective product
Your damages will depend on your type of injury. For example, women who were injured by defective transvaginal mesh walk around with tiny pieces of mesh in their bodies, causing them excruciating pain. Someone who needs emergency surgery because of food poisoning will have high medical expenses to treat their health issue.
Punitive Damages in a Product Liability Lawsuit
You often read about multimillion verdicts against companies that are responsible for defective products. One example that comes to mind is the $4.6 billion verdict against Johnson & Johnson for cases of mesothelioma caused by its talc powder. Juries react strongly when trusted companies deceive and hide problems with their product that they knew about all along.
In Johnson & Johnson’s case, the jury was angry because the company knew that its talc powder might have had asbestos in it for decades. The plaintiff’s attorneys got their hands on corporate documents that proved exactly what the company knew and how long it knew it. Apparently, this infuriated the jury, which wanted to send a strong message to Johnson & Johnson. This may not always apply to your case, but the prospect of these massive punitive damages is what forces defendants to come to the table and settle a case.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do I Prove a Product Liability Case?
Product liability cases often come down to a science, especially when you have alleged a manufacturing or design defect. Your attorney will work with experts who will show exactly why the product is unreasonably dangerous. In addition, your attorney will obtain evidence from the company that will show what they knew about their product.
Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers
Modesto, CA 95354
How Long Does a Product Liability Case Take?
If your case is one of the first ones in a series of lawsuits, your case can take years before it goes to a jury. If the defendant established a settlement fund, getting your money will take less time.
How Much Do I Need to Pay a Product Liability Lawyer?
You don’t need to pay anything out of your own pocket. We will work for you on a contingency basis. If we win your case, we will collect payment out of your settlement or jury award proceeds. If you do not win, you owe us nothing for our legal services.
Call a Modesto Product Liability Lawyer
Any product liability case requires an experienced attorney with a strong track record. This is exactly what we have at the firm of ich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers. We have taken on some of the country’s biggest companies on behalf of our clients when their products have caused injuries. We spare no effort to get you the financial recovery that you legally deserve. Call us today at (209) 255-6761 or contact us online for your free initial consultation.