What You Need to Know About Product LiabilityJune 15, 2011
There’s a reason your hair dryer is labeled, “Do not use while sleeping.” It’s the same reason a popular fireplace log warns, “Caution – risk of fire,” and a baby stroller is labeled, “Remove child before folding.” It’s also the reason McDonald’s coffee cups now come with a written warning that the coffee inside is hot, as many of us remember from the infamous 1994 “hot coffee” case.
What do these obscure labels have in common? All of them are results of product liability and personal injury cases that consumers fought and won. Your own case may not be so strange, but if you’ve been injured or become ill from using a product, you know what that product’s label should have said. Injuries caused by products can lead to short-term discomfort or long-term debilitating illness, such as in the case of cigarette smokers versus big tobacco companies.
Protect yourself and your family against product liability by knowing these important facts.
What is product liability? Product liability results when you have purchased or used a product that causes you injury. If you’re hurt, you may be entitled to sue regarding one of three potential product defects: defects in design, manufacturing, or marketing. A design defect is a flaw in the basic design plans for a product, a manufacturing defect is a problem with the product’s production or construction, and a marketing defect occurs when product instructions or documentation doesn’t adequately instruct in safe use or warn of potential use hazards.
Who is responsible? Of course you can sue the product manufacturer, but you can also sue sellers, wholesalers, and distributors, who may be liable for damages even if defects occurred without their action or knowledge. If the product was manufactured, all or in part, in a foreign country and then sold in the United States, all parties involved in the product’s manufacture or sale become subject to U.S. law and can be sued.
How long do I have to file a suit? Every state has a different statute of limitations for you to bring suit. Most time limits begin ticking down on the date of your injury. Some states have a “delayed discovery” clause where the statute begins on the date an injury is discovered, which can be months or years after the actual injury occurred. This clause is particularly useful in cases of leaky breast implants or exposure to asbestos.
Should I retain a products liability attorney? If you’ve been injured or become ill because of a product defect, an experienced products liability attorney can help protect your legal rights and earn you the compensation you deserve. That’s where Hornberger & Brewer comes in—the California personal injury lawyers with a difference. We fight hard for our clients, and our years of trial experience and our respected reputation earns results. We can seamlessly blend medical and technical knowledge into a persuasive legal strategy that often obtains amazing results for our clients. We offer a free initial consultation on all major personal injury actions.
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