Americans purchase and use thousands of consumer products every day, such as the packaged food we eat, the furniture we sit and sleep on, the tools we use for work, and the equipment we use for our leisure activities. The majority of those products perform their intended functions safely and as anticipated.
However, defective products still often end up on the market, and thousands of consumers suffer injuries from faulty merchandise every year. When a product harms someone, the manufacturer and those involved in the stream of commerce could be held liable for damages if the injured person seeks the help of a skilled personal injury attorney. If you have endured serious injuries because of a defective product, a Glendale product liability lawyer could help you seek compensation for your suffering.
In all injury cases, the injured person who files a claim for damages is called the plaintiff, and the person they are attempting to recover compensation from is the defendant. In a product liability claim, the manufacturer of the product will typically be the defendant. However, the law recognizes that others profited from bringing the defective product to market, and those other parties also could be held liable for damages.
A skilled defective product lawyer in the Glendale area could investigate to identify all potentially liable parties, including the wholesaler, distributor, packager, assembler, and retailer. If any of these entities is a subsidiary of another company, the parent company could be liable as well.
Any entity involved in bringing a product to market is strictly liable for any damages that the product causes. Strict liability means that the defendants are responsible for the plaintiff’s damages regardless of whether they were negligent or engaged in wrongdoing.
However, the plaintiff’s attorney must prove that the defendants were involved in the process of putting the particular product into the stream of commerce. They also must prove the product was dangerous when it left the factory and establish that it was defective in its design, manufacture, or labeling.
A product that is unreasonably dangerous when used for its intended purpose would have a design defect. The plaintiff in a product liability case must demonstrate that a different design would be safer, work just as well, and not be substantially more difficult or expensive to produce.
When a particular example of a specific product malfunctioned, but most examples of the same product are safe, a plaintiff could allege that an error occurred in the manufacturing process that caused the defect. This could result from a problem in the factory, with component parts, or with assembly or packaging.
A product’s label must warn potential users about any hazards that the product could possess and provide instructions for using the product safely. If a manufacturer does not provide an adequate label, they and others involved in the sale of the product could be liable for the consumer’s injuries.
Defendants responsible for putting defective products into the hands of consumers are not automatically responsible for a plaintiff’s injuries. Arizona law shields them from liability in certain circumstances. For example, if a plaintiff is alleging a design or manufacturing defect, but the process was the best that was available at the time the item was produced, the manufacturer could assert a state-of-the-art defense and might avoid liability.
Defendants might also argue that a product was altered when the consumer used or installed it, and they could escape liability if they can prove that the product was not in the same condition as it was when it left the factory at the time of the incident.
Similarly, a defendant might argue that the consumer misused the product, and their misuse caused their injury. However, defendants must ensure their products are safe for use in any way that they might reasonably anticipate. A defendant who asserts they are not liable due to plaintiff misuse must prove that they could not have anticipated someone might use the product in that specific way.
The damages available in product liability cases are the same as in any personal injury case. The defendant is responsible for compensating all the losses the plaintiff suffered because of their injury, but the plaintiff must provide the necessary evidence to establish their damages.
A plaintiff could collect economic damages like medical expenses, lost wages, and costs of obtaining household help to provide services they are unable to complete as a result of their injury. This requires a plaintiff to produce proof of payment for these expenses, such as receipts, invoices, bank statements, or similar documentation. The plaintiff could also submit W2s, tax returns, or pay stubs to establish the amount of income they lost due to their injury.
If the plaintiff’s injury requires ongoing medical treatment or will diminish their future earning capacity, a Glendale product liability attorney could hire experts to make projections about the amount of future losses. These projections could be the basis for a demand for damages to cover these future expenses.
Defendants are also responsible for compensating a plaintiff for their subjective losses. These might include mental anguish, disfigurement, disability, diminished ability to participate in pleasurable activities, and other losses. Plaintiffs could prove these non-economic damages through their testimony and the testimony of others.
Defendants often raise the plaintiff’s own conduct as a defense to product liability claims, and there are some cases in which a plaintiff’s negligence did have a role in their accident and injury. However, Arizona Consolidated Statutes §12-2505 allows a negligent plaintiff to still collect damages from other parties.
If a plaintiff’s negligence contributed to their injuries, a judge will determine how much responsibility they should bear for the accident. The plaintiff could still collect damages, but the judge will subtract a percentage that reflects the plaintiff’s apportioned fault.
Defective product claims can be complex, and you need a diligent advocate who will put in the effort to ensure that you present a strong case. A Glendale product liability lawyer has the knowledge and experience you need to obtain a fair settlement.
Injured people must act within two years or they lose their right to bring a lawsuit, so schedule a case review as soon as possible. Contact us today to learn more about your legal options and get started on your case.