Sustaining an injury or becoming ill due to a faulty product can cause significant and long-term harm to an individual. However, laws allow victims to seek compensation from the party responsible for the defective product. A victim is entitled to sue the individual or entity to obtain compensation that will recoup any financial losses the victim sustained due to the product, including medical bills and lost wages. A products liability lawyer can assist in holding the liable party responsible for the flawed product.
Which Expenses are Eligible to be Recouped?
Those victimized by a defective product are entitled to the same financial compensation as those who file personal injury claims. Among the expenses they can recoup include:
Medical Expenses: Depending upon the severity of the injury, there could be significant medical expenses involved. Regardless of the amount, a plaintiff has a right to seek money to recoup these loses.
Lost Wages: When a person is injured, it can impact their performance at work. This could mean transferring to a lower paying position or losing their job entirely. A plaintiff can seek compensation to make up for the decline in wages.
Loss of Future Income: If a person is forced to resign or take a lower paying one position due to their injures, a plaintiff can seek compensation for the income they will no longer be able to earn going forward. A lawyer will calculate the amount a person should have earned and add it into the lawsuit.
Household Services: An injured person may not be able to complete simple tasks around the house, like cooking or cleaning. If a victim needs assistance around the home, they can seek compensation for the added burden.
Pain and Suffering: This is a pre-determined amount that a lawyer will request to compensate a person for having to deal with the inconvenience of having been injured. The amount is not based on any expenses incurred by the victim.
Emotional Distress: Similar to pain and suffering, this is an amount that will attempt to make up for any emotional distress a person may be facing.
Permanent Disability: An injury severe enough could lead to disfigurement, as well as emotional and mental ramifications. This amount is an attempt to make up for the traumatic event.
Disfigurement: A defective product can also lead to disfigurement. A lawyer will attempt to quantify the distress through a particular dollar amount.
There could be devastating injuries that occur due to a defective product. Victims may undergo weeks of medical treatments. To improve the stability of a case, it is always important to gather as much evidence and paperwork as possible, such as receipts of medical treatments and notes from physicians.
Can I Seek Punitive Damages?
A victim in a products liability case is eligible to seek punitive damages against the company that released the defective product. Punitive damages are not meant to compensate the victim for their injuries; instead, they act as a deterrent for the company to prevent the defect from landing on the market again. Certain punitive damages are based on different factors, which include:
- The supplier or manufacturer’s awareness that the product could cause serious harm.
- The chances that the questioned behavior could lead to serious harm.
- Profitability for the supplier or manufacturer to participate in the misconduct.
- Attempt to hide misconduct.
- The length the misconduct occurred.
- How the supplier or manufacturer responded once they learned of the misconduct.
- Whether the misconduct was stopped once it was made apparent.
Certain states cap the amount a person can seek in punitive damages. New Jersey caps the amount at $350,000 or five times the amount a person received in compensatory damages, whichever is higher. Pennsylvania and Delaware have no punitive damages caps for products liability cases.
What is Products Liability?
Products liability pertains to the manufacturer or the marketer placing a defective product into the hands of the unsuspecting public. Anyone who had a role in the concept, construction, or distribution of the product can be held liable. Depending on when the defect developed will determine the liable party. There are no overarching federal regulations governing this topic, instead, individual states have their own set of products liability rules. There are three main areas where a defect can occur, with each one bearing its own level of responsibility:
Design Defect: When a product is first conceived, a person or team of designers develop the idea and what the product will look like. However, there could be a problem with the design that makes a product inherently unsafe. In this stage, it is the designer that can be held liable for a defect. The ideal way of knowing if a product has a defective design is when everyone who purchased the product has the same problem.
Manufacturing Defect: Once a product has been designed, it is up to the manufacturing team to build it. This is true for small items or large machines. At any point during the manufacturing of a product, a defect could be inadvertently included. The responsible party may have negligently included the defect, or the supervisor failed to spot it before approving the product for distribution. Unlike a design defect, a manufacturing defect will only impact one individual or a small group.
Marketing Defect: This occurs when a product is sold improperly or when customers are not warned about potential dangers. It specifically involves improper labeling, insufficient instructions, and inadequate safety warnings. The liability party under these circumstances is the marketing team or the individual that sold the product to the customer. An example of this would be a product that has small pieces but does not contain a warning label about a choking hazard. There can be instances when there is more than one defect, which is more common with medications.
What Should be Proven in a Products Liability Case?
When proving liability, there are a few standards that can be applied. There are cases that will apply the res ipsa loquitur doctrine, which shifts the burden from the plaintiff to the defendant. Under this circumstance, the defendant must prove that there was no negligence involved rather than the plaintiff proving that there was. Another rule that is beneficial to plaintiffs is the strict liability standard. Under this standard, the plaintiff does not need to prove that the manufacturer was negligent. Plaintiffs merely need to prove that the product was defective. Removing this burden increases the chance of a plaintiff proving their case.
When Should I File a Products Liability Case?
In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the statute of limitations to file a products liability case is two years from the date the person was injured. Pennsylvania allows some flexibility in the timeframe if the manufacturers of the product are found to be engaging in any fraudulent concealment. A victim will have two years from when they learned about the defect to file a case.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Victims Harmed by Flawed Products
If you were injured because of a defective product and you are seeking a way to recoup the financial loses you suffered, a Philadelphia products liability lawyer at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC can help you with your case. We know the law and will help you receive the best results for your situation. Call us at 215-569-8488 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.