Ensuring that a product is safe to use is the responsibility of manufacturers and product designers as well as retailers and marketers. When companies allow an unsafe and defective product to end up in the hands of a consumer, who in turn gets injured or sick because of the defective product, the company can be held legally responsible for any resulting damages. Here are a few key answers to common questions our firm handles regularly concerning product defect lawsuits.
What Is a Product Liability Lawsuit?
In simple terms, a product liability lawsuit is a civil suit that aims to hold the manufacturer (or party responsible for a defective product) liable for damages caused as a result of a product or equipment that presented a dangerous flaw or defect or failed to warn the consumer about a known risk of using the product.
There are a few basic elements a consumer must prove in order to initiate a product liability claim. First, you must prove that the product was sold to you in the marketplace. Second, the product contained a design defect or manufacturing defect. Third, the flaws caused the product to be foreseeably dangerous for a consumer, and last but not least, the consumer was injured by the product and sustained compensable damages.
What Are the Most Common Product Liability Claims Based On?
There are a few different product liability theories that a claim can be based on. The first one can be referred to as the risk-utility formula or risk-utility test, in which a plaintiff demonstrates that it would make more sense for a company to use an alternative design for their product based on the chance of an injury occurring and multiplying that number by the seriousness of potential injuries.
There is also the consumer expectations standard, in which a plaintiff demonstrates that the average consumer would not consider the product to be safe. Another option is demonstrating that the manufacturer did not provide adequate instructions or safety warnings, or failed to recall a product. A company can also be held liable for breach of warranty under contract law.
Does the State of Washington Have Laws Protecting Consumers Against Product Defects?
In Washington, consumers affected by defective products are covered by the Washington Product Liability Act (WPLA). The act was passed into law in 1981 to provide a fair manner of protecting consumers from defective products and streamline the process of obtaining financial compensation. Before the WPLA was created, product liability lawsuits were filed under common law. The act is now used as the exclusive remedy for product liability cases in Washington.
With the WPLA came some specific rules concerning the deadline for initiating a product liability lawsuit. A consumer has only three years to file a lawsuit, and the clock starts ticking from the day when the accident happened. While three years may sound like a long time, it is recommended to initiate the lawsuit shortly after the accident occurred, as cases of this nature require extensive investigations and evidence collecting in order to succeed.
What Can a Product Liability Attorney Do to Help My Case?
Working with a seasoned product liability attorney may be the difference between holding a company responsible for your damages and simply wasting your time and effort without achieving the result you wanted. Large manufacturers are well-equipped with a team of attorneys to handle cases on their behalf, and winning a product liability case against them is no easy feat - which makes self-representing an almost certain recipe for failure.
When you work with an attorney, he or she can handle every aspect of the case on your behalf and can instruct you on the right steps to take in order to increase your chances of a positive outcome. At Capital Injury Law, we help consumers hurt by defective products to receive compensation for their medical bills, economic losses, pain, and suffering. If you have been injured by a defective product, talk to our legal team at our Lacey office by calling 360-209-3360 and scheduling a time to discuss your case.