When we purchase something from a store, we trust the products are safe to use. We rarely think that the product could have a manufacturing error or other issue that would make it dangerous and could possibly cause harm. Drugs can be rushed to the market in favor of making a profit, as opposed to doing every test to make sure they’re safe. Manufacturing errors can mix up labels, or incorrectly display instructions on a box. This negligence can lead to injuries and damages for those that use the products.
If someone is hurt because of a defective product, they can file a product liability claim against the company because their actions are the reason the person incurred injuries. These claims can be difficult without legal aid. If this has happened to you or a loved one and you live in Georgia, Bey & Associates, LLC can help. You’ll be in touch with an experienced Atlanta product liability lawyer who wants to fight for your rights and help you get justice.
There are a few different reasons why a product can be considered dangerous or defective. Let’s take a look at those different types and what they typically include.
Types of Product Liability Claims
Regardless of what the defective product is, its reason for failure can be traced back to some point in its creation and development. The recalled products are typically pulled for at least one of the following three reasons:
This type of defect is the most common cause of product liability claims. A defectively manufactured product is flawed because of an error that occurred while it was being made. This mistake can lead to injury-causing problems that make the item different from others being sold.
It’s likely the lawsuit will be based on the grounds that the original design of the product is safe, but something happened during the manufacturing process that made it unsafe. If a product is found to be unreasonably dangerous and fails to safely perform as intended or in a manner reasonably foreseeable by the maker, it can be deemed the harm outweighs the benefit.
Examples of manufacturing defects include:
- A passenger vehicle missing its brake pads
- A tainted batch of cold medicine containing a poisonous substance
- A child’s toy that’s been wired incorrectly
The second type of product liability category is when a product’s design is inherently dangerous. This is an error that would have occurred prior to the manufacturing process. The claims involve entire lines of products and ignore the fact that the injury-causing product was made perfectly according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Examples of design defects include:
- A type of sunscreen that fails to protect the skin from ultraviolet rays
- A specific model of car that is apt to rolling over while turning corners or rounding bends at higher speeds
- A table that is designed with unequal leg lengths
Warning or Labeling Defects
The final type of product liability claim can be filed in the event a product was not sold with adequate warnings or instructions detailing proper use. These claims typically involve a product that is dangerous in some way that’s not obvious to consumers or requires the user to exercise extra precautions when using it. This can apply to avoidably and unavoidably unsafe products.
Examples of warning or labeling defects include:
- An allergy medicine that does not include information on its warning labeling regarding possible dangerous side effects when taking it in combination with other commonly taken drugs
- A toxic paint that is sold without adequate instructions for safe use and handling
- An iron that is packaged without sufficient warning concerning the temperatures the steam can reach
When the company knows about a hazard that is non-obvious to the consumer, they are supposed to include a warning on their label so the consumer can stay safe. In situations where companies don’t do this, it’s called “failure to warn.” Consumers have a right to know about the product they’re using. We understand how frustrating it can be to deal with an injury that a simple warning could have prevented. That’s why we’ll stand up to these companies and demand compensation for your injuries.
The lawyers at Bey & Associates, LLC are familiar with the various ways a product can be defective. When we’re helping you with your case, we’ll carefully examine what happened and find out the cause. We’ll also look into the injuries that occurred because of the hazardous product. With this information, we could help determine who was liable and the stage of the manufacturing process where negligence occurred and made the product dangerous for consumers.
Safety Hazards Associated with Faulty Products
Every kind of product, from household appliances to clothes to children’s toys, has to be safe to use. Prior to being placed on the market, products are required by law to be tested. In some cases, however, corporations find ways around this important step. This is one of the ways defective products are released to the public.
Every year, there are a number of products that are recalled by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Not only are they responsible for ensuring consumers are protected from dangerous products, they determine the regulations, laws, and standards that manufacturers are supposed to abide by.
When those federal laws are disregarded, the consequences can be devastating. Below you’ll find some categories of products that can be recalled and why.
Nearly everyone depends on a motor vehicle for transportation. They also expect the vehicle’s functions to work. Faulty systems or parts can be the catalyst for terrible accidents. Common defective auto parts include seat belts, airbags, and brakes. When safety devices are defective, the injuries in an accident are likely to be significantly worse.
There could also be mechanical issues with the engine or steering system. All these issues could risk the driver losing control of the vehicle and lacking the preventative safety measures to reduce the severity of the crash.
People get medical devices implanted to help them live healthier lives. The most common include heart valves and hip replacements. In hospitals, doctors depend on medical machinery to give them accurate feedback on how a patient is doing or to help keep a patient safe. A defective medical device that breaks down over time could cause the patient pain and will most likely require another corrective surgery. Medical equipment that has flaws could put patients at risk of infection.
Medication helps people treat problems and feel better. However, when drugs aren’t rigorously tested, they can have unforeseen side effects that put the patient’s health at risk. Doctors should also know how their drug will react to any other medications the patient takes or other medical conditions they have.
Another concern about dangerous drugs is their ability to cause addiction. Patients that are about to get medicine that could result in dependency need to have this information disclosed to them by their doctor. They should know that they have to follow the instructions that say how the medication should be taken or risk the consequences.
When patients don’t get this information, they may think they’ll be fine if they take more than the recommended daily dose. This, however, is how addictions start, and is considered to be drug abuse.
While the categories above see the most significant number of recalls, there are a number of other products that, if defective, often result in a product liability claim. Some of those products include:
- Dangerous Appliances. Appliances like irons, kettles, and electric griddles are supposed to be designed to make our lives easier. Unfortunately, when these appliances are defective the users can be seriously hurt. Some of the most common injuries involve burns—which often require a significant amount of treatment and recovery time.
- Toxic Chemicals. It’s likely you come in contact with toxic chemicals every day, and you may not even realize it. The cleaning products we use are supposed to be designed to clean our kitchens and bathrooms without harming us. When manufacturers are neglectful, the chemicals could end up being harmful when used correctly. This can be especially dangerous for elderly individuals and those with chronic respiratory conditions.
- Children’s Toys. Children love to receive new toys. Many toys, in addition to being fun, can be beneficial to those using them. When toys aren’t designed properly, however, children may be put in danger, and parents will likely be unaware of the defect until an injury has occurred.
- Defective Equipment. Defective products in the workplace can lead to deadly injuries. Dangerous machinery, industrial equipment, and tools can put employees at risk for injury and time missed from work.
Injuries and Illnesses Associated with Defective Products
Because any kind of product can have a defect or be a safety hazard, that are myriad injuries that can occur. Let’s take a look at the types of injuries that can occur when a product is made or marketed negligently.
- Head Injuries. Whether it’s an auto defect or equipment malfunction, a problem could cause an accident that causes a blow or bump to the head. If the force is severe, there could be internal swelling, bleeding, or an object could penetrate the person’s skull. Brain injuries can cause permanent issues with brain function.
- Broken Bones. Many accidents can have an impact that results in broken bones. These will likely need medical treatment and the person will need to let the bone heal. This could prevent them from being able to drive or do their job.
- Spinal Cord Injuries. If the spinal cord is injured, paralysis could occur. Someone could have lost or reduced function of their legs, trunk, and arms if the injury site is high enough.
- Lacerations. An accident that causes deep cuts can become infected, may need stitches, and will need to be treated quickly.
- Amputations. A defective product could cause an accident that leads to losing a limb or extreme nerve damage that could result in an amputation.
- Allergic Reactions. If there’s an issue with medication, someone could suffer from an allergic reaction if it’s labeled incorrectly. Allergic reactions can be extremely dangerous and can cause hospitalization.
- Illnesses. If the product has toxic chemicals, those that come into contact with it may get temporarily sick or could develop issues over time. In some cases, some people may develop a terminal illness from prolonged exposure. There could also be a defective medical device that causes an injury while it’s inside the patient’s body. The injury could become infected if it goes untreated.
Treatment for your injuries can take a significant amount of care and time. It can be overwhelming to think about getting involved in the legal process when you already have so much to deal with. However, filing a claim with experienced representation will give you the best chance of receiving the compensation you deserve. This compensation will help you cover the costs of the injuries and damages you suffered because of the defective product.
Let’s take a look into potential ways for you to get more information on recalled products and what to do if you find an issue with a product.
Get Informed About Recalled Products
While auto parts, medical equipment, and medicine are all major industries that can put consumers in harm’s way, it’s the unfortunate truth that any negligent manufacturer can put hazardous products on the market. This could be equipment you use at your job every day or lawn care equipment. It’s important to know that when a dangerous product causes you harm, it isn’t your fault.
There are steps you can take to check the quality of the products you’re using. When products are recalled, they’re usually reported so the public can access that information. You can stay up-to-date with current recalls by occasionally checking lists of recalled items. For information on other medical or drug recalls, visit the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Recalls regarding auto parts and vehicles can be found with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). For most other recalls, visit the CPSC’s list.
What to Do After Discovering a Product Problem
If you’re using a product and find an issue with it, you may wonder what your next steps should be. You can report the issue to the FDA, so they have the necessary information about the dangerous product. There’s a chance that others also have that same product and could be in danger of injury if they use it.
According to the FDA, the following reasons are grounds for reporting the product:
- Potential contamination
- Defective parts
- Device malfunctions
- Product mix-up
- Poor packaging or labeling concern
- Questionable stability
- Suspected counterfeit product
While it’s possible that consumers may discover issues, it’s also important to know that you could discover an unsafe product through your profession. The FDA lists examples of pharmacists discovering issues with packaging or a nurse noticing defects within devices used in a hospital.
It’s also important to be on the lookout for indicators that something is off. If a product is making a strange noise, is producing smoke, or has an unusual smell, then there’s a chance there could be an issue with the product.
Unfortunately, you may not always catch the issue before using the product. If a product has injured you, then you can fight for your rights. An Atlanta product liability lawyer from Bey & Associates, LLC will go over your rights as a consumer and help you get the justice you deserve.
Product Liability Laws in Georgia
If you’ve been injured or suffered other damages because of a product, our attorneys can help you file a successful product liability claim, to ensure you receive compensation for what you’ve been through. It’s often helpful to be familiar with what the law requires you prove in order to win your case.
In Georgia, product liability claims can be based on strict liability or negligence. With strict liability, you don’t have to prove fault, but you do need to be able to show the manufacturer who you are suing made the product and the product was defective when it left their control. With the negligence theory, the victim has to show that the product was designed carelessly, which led to their injury. This shows that the guilty party breached their duty to develop and release safe products to consumers.
Some cases rely on a breach of warranty as proof. This means that the manufacturer breached the express and implied warranties. An express warranty has to do with how the product is represented and deemed safe by the retailer or manufacturer. An implied warranty is the promise that, if used as intended, the product will not cause any harm.
Once it has been proven that you were wrongfully injured as a result of a defective product, compensation can be calculated based on a number of factors. You can rest assured that our product liability attorneys are well-versed in the factors that will apply to your case. We’ll fight to maximize your compensation.
Statute of Limitations
There are time limits in place for filing product liability lawsuits. According to the General Assembly of Georgia, you have two years to file a personal injury claim and four years for property damage claims. The discovery rule states that the time starts when you discovered, or should have discovered, both the injury and the product’s role in causing it.
Your product liability attorney will be able to help you determine how much time you have left to file your lawsuit, so you don’t miss out on compensation that can aid with your recovery.
Dangerous Product Compensation and Damage Limits
Georgia law limits the damages that can be collected in some product liability cases. Under the modified comparative negligence rule, damages cannot be recovered if the victim was 50 percent or more at fault for their injuries or property damage. For example, if someone was using an iron incorrectly when a wiring defect resulted in a fire, the claimant may be found liable for a portion of the incident.
Georgia also has an economic loss rule where individuals are not allowed to file a product liability suit if damage was only sustained to the product. If a person was not hurt and property was not damaged, a claim cannot be filed. The exception to this rule exists for sudden and calamitous events that involve risk to people or property. There is also an exception in the event the purchaser relied on misrepresentation.
Let’s look into the damages a product liability claim can include. First, we’ll look into the financial losses that are associated with defective products.
After a defective product harms you, your injuries can range from minor to severe. As a result, you’re likely going to have medical expenses from the current treatment and any continued care you may need in the future. If the injuries were severe, you may have to meet with specialists, undergo procedures, need medication for a period of time, or need medical equipment. When all this is necessary, your medical bills can become extremely expensive.
During this time, you’re likely unable to work. For many Georgia citizens, they depend on their paychecks to take care of their expenses and missing that regular income can cause financial stress. Paired with your medical bills, you may be wondering how you’re going to afford the treatment you need and maintain your other bills and necessities.
The defective product could have also caused property damage. A faulty tire that causes an accident could have resulted in damage to your car. A defective household item could have caused a fire that damaged your home. These are additional expenses you may be worried about.
When our lawyers review your case, we’ll examine all the economic damages that happened because of the dangerous product. We’ll fight for your compensation to reflect these losses so you’re able to cover the costs.
You should be able to afford the treatment, fix your property, and take the time to heal without having debt looming over your head. Your attorney from Bey & Associates, LLC will do everything possible to alleviate that burden with your product liability claim.
Your lawyer will also take the noneconomic damages into account as well. These may not be financial consequences but are still significant impacts the defective product caused. Let’s take a look at what you can recover as noneconomic damages.
Pain and suffering for experiencing injuries because of a faulty product can be included in your compensation. If we’re using the same examples as above, a faulty tire that caused an accident could have resulted in a broken bone. A fire could have caused burn injuries. This pain could have been prevented if negligence hadn’t occurred when making or packaging the product.
If the injuries are severe and have permanent consequences, you could also be experiencing mental anguish. Loss of limb or function and control of a body part will impact you for the rest of your life. Your injuries could prevent you from returning to work or other activities you regularly participated in. This may fall under the loss of enjoyment of life, another important factor in noneconomic damages.
Our lawyers will carefully go over your case and determine the noneconomic damages related to your case. Your compensation will reflect the emotional loss the injuries have caused you.
There is another component that may be involved in your case: punitive damages. These damages serve to punish the guilty party. They usually are a factor if gross negligence occurred and you were harmed because of it. It takes a skilled lawyer to identify if you’re eligible for punitive damages. If our lawyers determine you have grounds to recover punitive damages, we’ll gather the evidence necessary to show the liable party was grossly negligent. While there are no caps on punitive damages, the state takes 75 percent of the punitive compensation awarded in product liability cases.
Product Liability and Mass Torts
There are some product liability cases where a class action lawsuit is appropriate. This is referred to as a mass tort, and it’s often the most economical way for victims to seek justice. When a number of consumers have been harmed by a product, they have the right to bring a class-action lawsuit for non-injury claims.
Attorneys will often seek out other defective product victims through mass mailings and media. Pharmaceutical cases are often brought forth as a mass tort because hundreds of thousands of people could have been affected by a harmful drug.
As opposed to seeking compensation for injuries and property damage, mass torts often seek monetary recovery for product defects that result in the diminution of value. This refers to the difference in value between the defective product and the intended product. Claims can also seek compensation for fraudulent price inflation. This is often based on product misrepresentation.
Common Defenses to Product Liability Claims
As your lawyer will tell you, it’s a good idea to prepare for all situations and it’s best to assume the opposing side will build an aggressive defense against you. They’ll probably start by claiming the product was not the cause of your injury. It’s also likely that they say you assumed the risk of using the product or were using it improperly. To win your case, your attorney will need to build a strong case for you that can prove the other side’s point wrong.
To build a strong case, a thorough investigation will be needed. As the victim, it’s important to retain as much of the product as you can. Keep all the parts together and give them to your attorney. They will be able to research how the product should have worked and determine what went wrong. Depending on the situation, an expert witness can expedite this process.
When you’re filing a product liability claim, it’s imperative to have much information and records on your side as possible. An accurate record of your injuries can include medical records. Seeing a physician to get an evaluation of your injuries, the recommended treatment plan, and an estimate of what it’s going to take for you to recover in terms of time and cost will be available with your medical records. You can also photograph injuries and keep a journal that keeps track of the symptoms you’re feeling and how the injuries are impacting your everyday life.
Photographs of the accident scene and any accident reports can also help your case. If there were eyewitnesses to what happened, they can give an important third-party point of view that can help support your side of the story. Any other damages to property can also be shown through photographs and evaluations of the property—like an itemized list of damage to a car after an accident.
It’s also important to keep copies of any documents given to you and to keep them in a designated folder. When you have everything in a specific place, you don’t have to worry about the stress of being disorganized and potentially losing important documents. When our lawyers are handling your case, you can have peace of mind that your case will be filed properly, on time, and you’ll be updated on what you need to know. We understand how stressful a personal injury claim can be. Our lawyers will keep communication lines open and answer promptly so you’re not left wondering about the state of your case.
Protect Your Rights With the Help of Bey & Associates, LLC
Companies that manufacture products have a responsibility to inform the public of possible side effects and dangers of using their product and taking it off shelves if they receive evidence that their product is causing harm. By the time they do this, people could have already been hurt.
If you or a loved one has been injured because a product was defective or had incorrect packaging, you may be able to get compensation with an Atlanta product liability lawyer from Bey & Associates, LLC. We can help you build your case and file your claim, to ensure the negligent entity is held accountable for their error.
We’re dedicated to providing the best legal services to the citizens of Georgia. Our goal is to get you the compensation you deserve so you can have peace of mind and recover from your injuries. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for a free consultation.