When 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 you live in Georgia, Bey & Associates 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.
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.
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.
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, air bags, 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.
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 on 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.
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, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.
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.
Finally, while there are no caps on punitive damages, the damages that serve to punish the guilty party, the state takes 75 percent of the punitive compensation awarded in product liability cases.
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.
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.
It’s also imperative to keep an accurate record of your injuries, damages, and recovery time. Your medical records will be examined, and how much money you’ve spent as a result of the injury can be calculated.
Protect Your Rights with the Help of Bey & Associates
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 a lawyer from Bey & Associates. 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.