Products power every aspect of our lives. In fact, consumer spending (the sum of goods and services) makes up about 70% of the economy. With such a massive volume of products changing hands, companies all along any specific product’s supply chain have a duty to ensure products work as intended. Some products carry inherent unavoidable risks which companies can mitigate by proper labeling. However, flaws in the product’s design, manufacturing, or communication processes may pose additional risks that consumers are dangerously unaware of. Luckily in California, companies involved in a product’s supply chain from design to retail are subject to product liability law.
Have you or a loved one suffered an injury from a defective product? You may be entitled to compensation through a product liability claim. However, if you plan to pursue legal action, understanding the basics of product liability beforehand is a must.
What is Product Liability?
To understand your legal rights surrounding a product liability claim, you first need to understand the topic at its core. Product liability refers to the legal responsibility of a manufacturer, distributor, or retailer to compensate consumers injured by a defective product. This can include injuries caused by design defects, manufacturing defects, or failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions.
Types of Product Liability Claims
There are three main types of product liability claims you can argue for:
Design defects are additional dangers of a product due to design oversights. This type of claim bases its validity on the theory that designers are initially responsible for creating safe designs.
California civil code § 2784 defines a design defect as: “A condition arising out of its design which renders a structure, item of equipment or machinery or any other similar object, movable or immovable, when constructed substantially in accordance with its design, inherently unfit, either wholly or in part, for its intended use or which impairs or renders the use of such structure, equipment, machinery or property dangerous.”
A manufacturing defect occurs when an otherwise safe product becomes unsafe due to a mistake during the manufacturing process. This type of claim bases itself on the theory that the manufacturer deviated from the safe original design during the product’s manufacturing process, making it dangerous.
The Supreme Court defines a manufacturing defect as the following: “In general, a manufacturing or production defect is readily identifiable because a defective product is one that differs from the manufacturer’s intended result or from other ostensibly identical units of the same product line.”
Failure to Warn:
Many products have inherent risks associated with them. Knowing these risks empowers consumers to mitigate them and decide if the benefits from usage outweigh the risks for them. This type of claim occurs when a product is safe but the manufacturer or distributor fails to provide adequate warning or instructions, making it dangerous. This can include a lack of warning labels, failure to provide instructions on proper use, or failure to warn of potential hazards.
Which of these three claims you base your product liability case on depends on your unique situation. A skilled lawyer can help you determine which path will most likely result in victory. Ultimately though, the best claim is the one most directly related to the cause of your injury. For example, what if you went after the design, but a manufacturing defect caused your injury? Your case against the designer would be a waste of time and money.
Defenses Against Your Claim
You may think an injury from a product you bought is a straightforward case. However, if the defense has a skilled California product liability lawyer, they may argue that you are at fault. If the court accepts this reasoning, you may lose your case. Working with an equally skilled attorney can help you anticipate such defenses and prepare the evidence and arguments necessary to refute them.
Manufacturers and distributors may raise several defenses to a product liability claim, such as:
Assumption of risk:
If the plaintiff was aware of the potential danger of the product and still chose to use it, the defendant may argue that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury.
If the plaintiff altered the product in a way that made it dangerous, the defendant may argue that the alteration caused the injury, not the defect.
If the plaintiff used the product in a way that was not intended or foreseeable, the defendant may argue that the plaintiff’s misuse caused the injury, not the defect.
Proving A Product Liability Claim
To prove a product liability claim, the plaintiff (the injured party) must prove that the product was defective and that the defect caused the injury. This can be challenging, as it may require the use of expert witnesses, such as engineers or product design experts, to testify about the defect and how it caused the injury.
The plaintiff must also prove that they used the product in a way that was reasonably foreseeable by the manufacturer or distributor. This means that the plaintiff must have used the product in the way it was intended to be used or in a way that was reasonably foreseeable.
Make sure to keep in mind the statute of limitations for product liability claims, which is the time period within which a claim must be filed. The statute of limitations for California as written in California Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1 is set to two years from the date of the injury.
Hiring A California Product Liability Attorney
Product defects can originate from the designer, manufacturer, distributors, or retailers. Whichever company along the supply chain is responsible, one thing, however, remains perfectly clear. You are not responsible for the injuries you sustain from a defective product.
If you have suffered injuries from a defective product, consider investing in an experienced product liability attorney. A skilled lawyer can also help you negotiate a fair settlement with the company at fault. They can also help you understand your legal rights, guide you through proving your claim, and represent you in court.
At Kuvara Law Firm, we have skilled and experienced product liability attorneys ready to fight for your justly deserved compensation. Our lawyers help navigate the complexities of product liability law to tear down defendant arguments aimed at lowering your compensation. Additionally, our lawyers have the experience with California laws necessary to make sure your claim addresses all the necessary details. We craft legal strategies for working both with the law and against the defense. This can make or break the decision to award you the maximum compensation possible for your unique case.Are you in California and ready to take legal action against the company responsible for your injuries? Kuvara’s skilled product liability attorneys are here to help. Contact us today to get help winning the compensation you deserve.