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Product Liability - Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What does the term product liability mean?
  2. If I am injured or a loved one is killed by a defective product, who do I make a claim against?
  3. What must be proven in a product liability case?
  4. Isn't it hard to take on a product manufacturer in a legal case?
  5. If the product manufacturers spend so much money defending cases, how does a plaintiff ever win?
  6. What damages can I recover in a defective product case?


What does the term product liability mean?

Manufacturers are required to design and produce safe products and provide proper instructions and warnings. This applies to all products, from toys and cribs, to automobiles, industrial products and medical devices.

If I am injured or a loved one is killed by a defective product, who do I make a claim against?

You may make a claim against the manufacturer of the product, and in some instances the retailer or distributor of the product. If there had been changes made to the product or repairs, the individuals or entities involved in changing the product or making the repairs may also have some responsibility, depending upon what was done and when.

What must be proven in a product liability case?

There are three basic elements in a product liability case:

  1. The product must have been in a defective condition or reasonably dangerous for its intended use. This can include negligence in the design of a product, a manufacturing defect which occurs when the product is sent out into the public without proper quality control and inspection, and/or if the warnings and instructions are improper;
  2. The defect must have existed when the product left the manufacturer's control; and
  3. the defect must have been the proximate cause of the injury or death. Proximate cause is a legal term, which means a cause, and not necessarily the only and single cause.


Isn't it hard to take on a product manufacturer in a legal case?

Product manufacturers and their insurers spare no expense in defending claims for injuries caused by claim defects in a product. Pursuing such claims requires careful selection of lawyers and law firms. Chose a firm that has the financial resources to press forward with a claim, as well as the expertise to properly research all of the factual issues and develop a solid strategy prior to starting the lawsuit against the manufacturer. A case that is well researched and thoroughly investigated has a much better chance of success against a large product manufacturer and their insurer.

If the product manufacturers spend so much money defending cases, how does a plaintiff ever win?

It is important to retain attorneys who have experience with "product liability" claims and have the financial resources to promptly investigate and prosecute a product liability case against a wealthy product manufacturer. Prompt and thorough investigation is very important as soon as possible after an injury or death caused by a defective product to identify all issues regarding design, manufacturing and instructions. It is this thoroughness of preparation by knowledgeable attorneys that gives plaintiffs the advantage in obtaining a successful result in the "product liability" case.

What damages can I recover in a defective product case?

You can recover for past and future medical expenses, funeral expenses, pain, disability, emotional distress and disfigurement. If your capacity to earn a living has been impaired, you may recover for diminished earning capacity. Your uninjured spouse may also have a right to recover for the loss of your services and companionship caused by your injury.