Each year, thousands of Americans become victims of defective products. According to Lex Machina, product liability claims have increased over the years, with their recent report revealing over 56,000 cases filed in the Federal district courts.
Consumer Product Safety Commission also reports that defective products lead to about 22,000 deaths and 30 million injuries per year, numbers that are extremely alarming. These cases are especially common in the medical and pharmaceutical domains.
If you or a loved one is harmed by a defective product, you can file a claim against the manufacturer or other parties in the chain of distribution of the item. However, these lawsuits can be complex for the average person. To protect your rights, you should hire a Gainesville product liability lawyer.
The team at H Groves Law is skilled and experienced in this field and we are readily available to help you seek the compensation you deserve. Reach out to our Gainesville personal injury lawyers by calling (770) 329-1868 today!
What Is Product Liability?
In Georgia, product liability is an area of law that holds companies that design, manufacture, and supply products accountable if the end-user sustains injuries or becomes ill as a result of using their products.
However, it’s important to note that product liability law is very complicated and the details vary from state to state. In Georgia, product liability claims are usually made under the aspects of strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. These avenues allow you to seek compensation for injuries and losses incurred due to a defective product.
Do I Have a Product Liability Claim?
Product liability claims in Georgia usually involve design defects, manufacturing defects, labeling defects, or failure to warn.
When determining if you can sue or not, it is imperative to keep the following in mind.
- You don’t have to be the buyer. If you are injured by a defective product purchased by a family member, you can still pursue compensation.
- You don’t have to be the user. If your child sustains injuries from a defective product, you can still file a claim.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a defective product, call our Gainesville product liability lawyers for a free case evaluation today.
Before a product is made, it undergoes a design process. This is where the standards that allow a product to function as expected are made. However, a product can be manufactured in accordance with the specifications and still fail later on.
In order to determine a design defect, the following questions come into play.
- Was the design unreasonably dangerous before production?
- Was it feasible to anticipate the product design could harm the end user?
- Could the manufacturer have employed a better design that was economically feasible and wouldn’t change the product’s purpose?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then you may have legal grounds to make a design defect claim.
These are mistakes done during the production and assembly stage. Manufacturing defects are usually found in a small percentage of a company’s products, but whether they were careful or not, strict liability stipulates that they should be held accountable for any injuries to the end user.
Failure to Warn
You can also make a product liability claim for a company’s failure to warn of possible risks. The same also applies to any party in the product’s chain of distribution, especially when they could have provided warnings or instructions to prevent injuries.
Manufacturers have the obligation to warn end users of possible dangers, risks, and side effects associated with using their products. A product is deemed to have a labeling defect if its instructions are wrong or unclear, or when the dangers are intentionally omitted. Labeling defects can also apply when a safety warning or label is not accessible or visible.
What Are the Common Types of Product Liability Cases?
Common examples of product liability cases include:
- Dangerous drugs
- Defective vehicles
- Nicotine poisoning
- Defective medical devices
- Defective guardrails
- Defective airplanes
- Defective firearms
- Defective children’s products
How Can I Prove a Product Was Defective?
Generally, there are 3 types of product liability lawsuits.
More often than not, product liability lawsuits are sought under the principle of strict liability. Under this theory, you can only seek compensation if you can show that the product was defective and caused harm. This applies no matter whether or not the defendant practiced reasonable care. As long as the item is found to be defective and dangerous to the end-user, you will be eligible for compensation.
In regard to product liability, an item is deemed defective if its risks outweigh the benefits. An item’s defect may arise from its design, production, or packaging. It can also arise from insufficient labeling and warning, referred to as failure to warn or labeling defects.
Strict liability provides Georgia victims the easiest means for seeking compensation as they don’t have to determine which party failed in their duty and how they did so. Under this form of liability, any party involved in the product’s chain of distribution can be held liable for injuries and losses. This includes suppliers, wholesalers, and retailers.
While the concept of strict liability is primarily based on the fact that a good is defective, negligence pays attention to the actions of the defendant. When it comes to negligence, any party can be held accountable for injuries and losses incurred if their careless or reckless actions lead to a product becoming dangerous or defective.
Any individual in the chain of commerce can be held accountable if they failed to practice reasonable care, which led to a defective product. This is unlike strict liability where any party can be held accountable, whether they were negligent or not.
Examples of product development in which negligence can occur include:
- Designing product plans
- Maintenance of machines
- Failure to test or foresee plausible uses for a product
- Releasing the product to the market in a hasty manner
- Failure to test or inspect the product thoroughly
In order to make a claim based on negligence in Georgia, you should be able to prove the following elements.
- You were owed a duty of care.
- The other party breached this duty of care.
- Their negligence led to your injuries and losses.
- You actually suffered recoverable damages.
Product liability claims based on negligence tend to be more challenging to prove as you have to determine the exact party responsible for the defect in the product. This usually calls for a lengthy and thorough investigation. That’s why you should have an experienced legal representative by your side.
Breach of Warranty
When you purchase a product, you usually depend on two types of warranties.
- An express warranty is a clear (usually written) promise about the product and its safety made by the retailer or manufacturer.
- An implied warranty is the implied promise by the manufacturer that the good will not cause harm if utilized as intended or instructed.
The breach of warranty element covers you if you use the product as expected but it turns out to be defective.
When Is a Class Action Lawsuit Feasible?
In the state of Georgia, you can file a product liability lawsuit alone, or as part of a class action. The latter applies if the defective good injured numerous people in the same way. In the class action lawsuit, a small group of individuals will represent thousands of people who have sustained the same injuries.
But when is a class action lawsuit suitable for you? Well, you should consider it when the amount of damages each victim receives is nominal and when the potential value of your compensation wouldn’t outweigh the legal fees involved. Keep in mind that a class action lawsuit does not usually apply when the consumers have sustained unique or severe injuries.
Who Can Be Held Liable for My Damages?
In the state of Georgia, as mentioned earlier, any party in the chain of distribution of the product can be held accountable for injuries and losses sustained. Common parties in this chain include:
The manufacturer is the first link in the chain of distribution of a product. They are responsible for making the products you use, or at least the components. Most companies depend on third parties at this level, including sourcing agents, wholesalers, etc. This makes it challenging to pin down the party responsible for the defective product.
When making a product liability claim, you may need to sue an array of companies depending on how the product was designed and manufactured, as well as the components responsible for damages. If a stroller, for example, breaks and the wheels fall off, you may have to sue both the stroller and wheel manufacturers.
Wholesalers, distributors, and suppliers are usually the link between manufacturers and retailers. They are part of the chain distribution, and therefore, potentially liable for a defective product.
While the online or offline store where you bought the defective item did not make the product, the retailer can also be held responsible for the injuries and losses incurred because they sold it to you.
Medical practitioners who recommend or prescribe a medical product or drug can be held liable for failure to warn you about the risks and dangers involved. They can also be sued if they failed to provide adequate or clear instructions regarding the right use of the product or medicine.
Hospitals, clinics, or any other facility involved in the chain of distribution between the medical product’s manufacturer and the end user can be held liable for any illnesses or injuries sustained.
What Are the Elements of a Successful Product Liability Claim in Georgia?
For your product liability claim to be successful in Georgia, your Gainesville product liability lawyer will need to prove the following essential elements.
Injury or Loss
There must be evidence showing that you sustained injuries or experienced financial loss as a result of the defective product. If there’s no actual damage or injury, you won’t have legal grounds to make a claim.
Your attorney will need to show the product is indeed defective. This can either be due to a design or manufacturing defect and must be shown that the fault led to injury or financial loss. If not, you should show that there were no warning signs about the dangers or risks involved with the product’s use.
Your lawyer must prove the defective product was the direct cause of injury. It’s paramount to show when you sustained the injury, the product had a fault. In other words, you wouldn’t be injured if it was not for the defect.
Condition of Product
At the time of your injury, the product must have been in basically the same condition as when it left the manufacturer. In other words, you sue if you make structural changes to the product.
Foreseeable Use of Product
You can only recover compensation if you used the product how the manufacturer intended or for a purpose the manufacturer should have anticipated. For example, chairs are meant for people to sit in, but it’s expected that people will use them to reach high shelves.
It is advisable to seek legal assistance from an experienced lawyer well-versed in Georgia’s product liability law. Proving liability can be complex and given the many parties you may have to deal with, protecting your rights and knowing what to do is essential.
What Is the Time Limit to File a Product Liability Claim?
If you are injured by a defective product, you have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia. The time is measured from when you learned or reasonably should have learned that the product caused your injury.
Under Georgia law, product liability cases must be brought within 10 years of the first sale of the product for use or consumption. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. Call our Gainesville product liability lawyers for help today.
Hire a Gainesville Product Liability Lawyer Today!
Injuries sustained from defective products can lead to physical and emotional pain as well as financial stress. If you or a loved one has sustained injuries due to a faulty or unreasonably dangerous product, the lawyers at H Groves Law are here to help.
Call our law firm near Gainesville, GA at (770) 329-1868 to get started!