Our Tacoma Product Liability Lawyers Have a 98 Percent Win Rate
There are good reasons why clients choose to work with our team at Strong Law Firm. Our team has a proven record of winning cases for our clients, and we are ready to help you. We will guide you at every step in the process of a product liability case to ensure that you understand what is happening and you know all of your legal options.
The first step is to understand what is product liability. If a product causes you or a loved one an injury, whether it makes you sick or causes other physical damage, such as a broken bone, you could have a product liability case. In most cases, manufacturers make products that are safe. Sometimes, however, food becomes contaminated, or a defective product passes through quality control, such as a bicycle with defective brakes.
If you suffered injuries because of something you bought, contact our experienced Tacoma product liability lawyers at Strong Law by calling (206) 741-1051 for a free case evaluation.
Types of Product Defects
Product defects can include manufacturing and design defects, failing to warn of dangers, and inappropriate or incorrect warning labels.
If a product has a manufacturing defect, that defect affects a very small percentage of the product that is on the market. It is something that passed quality control when it most likely should not have. For example, a baby’s rattle has a small crack in it. Quality control did not notice the crack, the rattle broke, and your baby choked on the small pieces inside the rattle.
On the other hand, a design defect happens because of a problem with the design of the product. In this case, all of the products will have the same defect. For example, a glass candle explodes when hot wax touches the glass. The defect is because the manufacturer designed a candle with the wrong type of glass. The employees follow the incorrect blueprint to manufacture these dangerous candles.
Manufacturer’s Failure to Warn
When you have a failure-to-warn situation, the manufacturer did not warn consumers of the possible risks of using a certain product. In this case, anyone in the distribution chain knows or should know of the potential risks and should warn the consumer. If they don’t, and the product causes you injury, you could file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer and/or anyone in the distribution chain.
Rules for Warning Labels
Warning labels have their own set of rules. The American National Standards Institute publishes regulations for product safety labels and signs. A warning label must warn you of the existing hazards of using the product, the severity of the risk, the effects of using the product, and how to avoid the hazard.
One of the more common places you see warning labels is on prescription medications. The label must warn you if taking the drug under certain circumstances could cause injury. For example, sleeping pills should have a label warning that the drug could make you tired, that you could sustain injuries if you operate a vehicle or heavy equipment, that the drug could cause you to get in a wreck, and that you should not drive until you know whether the drug will adversely affect you.
Types of Tacoma Product Liability Cases
In order to win a product liability case, you have to prove the defendant did something wrong.
Proving Negligence in a Product Liability Case
If you have a negligence claim, you must show that the manufacturer was negligent in manufacturing the item, whether the negligence was in the design or manufacture of the item. The four elements of negligence are:
- The defendant had a duty to create and/or sell a safe product.
- The defendant breached that duty.
- The defendant knew or should have known that the product had a defect.
- The product caused your injuries.
For example, the brake pads on a car fail, and the manufacturer was notified that the brake pads failed on several vehicles. The manufacturer did not change their design process and continued making the brake pads. You buy a vehicle with said brake pads installed, or you install them later. The brakes fail and cause you to wreck. You might have a product defect lawsuit because of negligence against the brake pad manufacturer.
In a strict liability case, you have to prove that the defect exists and that you suffered an injury because of the defect. This is much easier than trying to prove negligence, since you do not have to prove duty and that the manufacturer breached that duty. For this type of claim, you must have purchased the product new, not used.
Product Defects and a Breach of Warranty
You might also need product defect lawyers if the manufacturer or seller breached an express or implied warranty. An express warranty is a representation made by a manufacturer or retailer about a product’s safety. An implied warranty is when the manufacturer or another liable party implies that a product is safe to use as intended.
Food Poisoning and Product Liability
You can bring a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer or anyone in the chain of distribution of food that makes you sick. However, these claims are often difficult to prove. By the time you eat the food and get sick, you don’t have any proof.
However, other evidence that can help prove your case includes food samples from the same batch that have evidence of microorganisms and/or bacteria in it, and the same in you. That means you would have to go to the hospital quickly and ask for tests to determine what is making you sick, whether it is salmonella or another bacteria or microorganism.
Can I File a Class Action Lawsuit Against a Manufacturer or Another Liable Party?
If the product that caused your injuries also caused injury to others, you might be able to file a class action lawsuit where a small group of people, including you, represent a larger group that suffered injuries because of a product. However, in such cases, the damages you receive are usually nominal and less than the legal costs of filing an individual lawsuit.
Who Can I Sue for Injuries Because of a Defective Product?
Product defect lawyers will determine, based on the circumstances of your case, who might share in the liability for your injuries. Depending on your circumstances, you could sue several parties. If more than one entity or person is responsible for your injuries, the court will determine who has a higher percentage of fault. For example, you could collect 65 percent of a lawsuit from a manufacturer, 30 percent from a wholesaler, and 5 percent from a retailer under certain circumstances.
Types of Injuries Caused by a Defective Product
The types of injuries you could sustain from a defective product depend on the product. Defective brakes on a vehicle could cause catastrophic injuries, even death, while a shelving unit with a bent piece of metal might cause a jagged cut that requires stitches.
Injuries might include:
- Cuts, scrapes, bumps, bruises, and scratches
- Pulled and torn muscles, and other soft tissue injuries
- Strains and sprains
- Simple or compound fractures
- Crushed bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head, neck and shoulder injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Nerve injuries
- Face and eye injuries
- Bacterial infections
- Internal injuries
- Chemical or thermal burns
- Excessive scarring and / or disfigurement
You could also suffer from secondary injuries, such as infections from an open wound, whether the wound was a direct result of the event or accident or because a doctor had to open you up to repair internal injuries or set bones.
Additionally, if you have a compromised immune system, some injuries could exacerbate existing conditions. Because you would not have otherwise suffered the additional pain or had the additional expenses for the aggravated injuries, the defendant is responsible for those costs as well.
If you suffered damages because of a defective product, including food that made you sick, contact our Tacoma product liability attorneys at (206) 741-1051 for a free case evaluation.
Recoverable Damages in a Tacoma Product Liability Lawsuit
Our Tacoma product liability attorneys can help you recover three types of damages in a product liability case. Compensatory damages are those that the court orders the defendant to pay in an attempt to make you “whole” again. They are divided into two types: special damages and general damages.
You could also recover punitive damages under certain circumstances. However, you have to prove gross negligence or intent when asking for punitive damages. The court orders a defendant to pay punitive damages as a punishment. This money is not to make you whole again; it is to deter the defendant and others from making the same mistake that caused your injuries.
Sometimes referred to as economic damages, special damages have a defined monetary value. The defendant pays special damages to reimburse you for the expenses your injuries cost. Special damages include:
You can collect compensation for medical expenses that you incur because of the incident and prior to a settlement or a trial award. However, some injuries require long-term medical care, because they cause long-term or permanent disabilities. In this case, your attorney will work with medical professionals to determine the estimated cost of future medical care related to the incident. You can also recover compensation for that extra medical care.
Medical expenses include surgeries, follow-up appointments, doctors’ appointments, physical therapy, cognitive therapy, psychological therapy and occupational therapy. Additionally, if a defective product causes you to lose the use of a body part or bodily function, you can recover compensation for medical aids, including wheelchairs, catheters, glasses, walkers, and more.
Finally, if you require ambulatory aids and require modifications to your vehicle and home so that you can drive your car or access your home safely, the defendant in a product liability case is responsible for those expenses.
Replacement of Personal Property
In some types of incidents, such as a car accident, you might lose the use of personal property. The defendant is responsible for the cost to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property, including your vehicle, clothing, smartphones and computers that were on your person or in your vehicle, and other personal property.
Loss of Wages and Earning Capacity
Some accident or incident injuries prevent you from working at your full capacity or at all. You can recover lost wages for the time you were not able to work from the time of the incident through the time you settle or win a trial award.
If your injuries preclude you from working after a settlement or trial award, and doctors do not expect you to have the ability to return to work, you can also recover lost earning capacity until the time you would normally retire.
If you lost a loved one because of a defective product, you could recover certain end-of-life expenses, such as funeral expenses, cremation expenses and burial expenses. Additionally, you might also recover other costs, such as the cost of filing a probate action and additional related costs.
Sometimes referred to as non-economic damages, general damages do not have a monetary value. The defendant pays this compensation for the inconvenience and losses your injury caused. General damages include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress. If you lost a loved one because of a defective product, you could also collect compensation for emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life if your injuries require a significant lifestyle change, such as taking medications or using ambulatory aids for the rest of your life.
- Loss of use of a body part, such as a foot, or a bodily function, such as your eyesight.
- Loss of companionship if your injuries preclude you from enjoying time with your family, including relaxing at home, going out on outings, or taking part in family events.
- Loss of consortium if a defective product caused injuries that remove the ability to have a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the chores you usually do. These chores can range from lawn maintenance to home repair and maintenance, grocery shopping to house cleaning, and even taking care of farm animals if you have a farm.
Additionally, if your injuries caused excessive scarring or disfigurement, you could also recover compensation.
Why You Should Retain Tacoma Product Liability Attorneys
People sometimes try to settle their cases themselves. However, product liability cases can be very complicated, especially when more than one insurance company and/or defendant is involved, or when you need to prove negligence.
Working with Insurance Companies
Before you file a lawsuit, you have the option of settling with the insurance company. However, because insurance companies are for-profit companies, they often try to deny claims, or they will offer an amount that is so low that it might not cover your medical expenses, never mind the rest of your damages.
When you work with a Tacoma personal injury attorney, the insurance company is more likely to deal with you fairly. Additionally, insurance companies know that if you retain an attorney, you are more likely to start litigation if they do not offer a fair and reasonable amount in settlement negotiations.
Product Liability Cases with More than One Defendant
Another difficulty with product liability cases is that you could be entitled to recover compensation from more than one company. For every defendant you add to your lawsuit, you add at least one additional attorney. Some of the larger corporations involved in a product liability lawsuit might have two or three attorneys working on the case.
Court Timelines and Deadlines
If the insurance companies do not offer a fair and reasonable settlement, you can file a lawsuit against them. However, once you do that, the court gives you deadlines for filing certain documents, to complete discovery, and other deadlines. Sometimes the deadlines can be complicated. If you miss a deadline, you risk having your lawsuit dismissed.
Instead of worrying about doing everything correctly, knowing the finer aspects of the law, including case law, or missing a deadline, let our Tacoma product liability attorneys handle this hassle for you, especially if you are still dealing with injuries from the incident.
When Your Child Suffers Because of a Defective Product
If your child suffered injuries or lost his or her life because of a defective product, you can bring a wrongful death action against the manufacturer or others involved in the sale of the product. The compensation you can recover on behalf of your minor child depends on several factors, including the severity of injuries. You could recover loss of earning capacity on behalf of your child, or extra compensation if the child’s injuries caused long-term or permanent disabilities that will require someone to provide care for the rest of their life.