Each year, thousands of personal injury cases resulting from defective or dangerous products are filed in U.S. courts. Those who become injured as a result of these products can sometimes recover damages more easily, due to the fact that product liability law employs its own set of rules and options for damage recovery.
If you have become injured as the result of a defective product, you will need to seek a qualified product liability lawyer who understands how the law affects your ability to file a claim.
Defining Product Liability
All products are required by law to meet the customer’s ordinary expectation. Product liability occurs when sellers, manufacturers, and any other individuals in a product’s distribution chain are identified as being responsible for defective products finding their way into the homes of consumers and causing consumers to not have their ordinary expectations met. In addition to sellers and manufacturers, the wholesaler, individual product assembler, and parts manufacturer can also be held liable.
Personal injury lawyers in NYC can file product liability cases as long as the product has been sold in the marketplace at some point in time. As well, you don’t need to be the individual who purchased the defective product in order to file a product liability claim.
Common Types of Liability Claims
Products can be dangerous to consumers in more than one way. A product can be made unsafe due to a manufacturing problem, such as a defective frying pan coating which breaks down and is ingested with food. Products can also be inherently dangerous due to flaws in their design, such as a vehicle which can tip when turned sharply due to an excessively high roof line.
Finally, a product can be considered to be defective when a seller or manufacturer fails to provide the consumer with the warnings or instructions they need to ensure product safety. An example of this would be the absence of warning labels on laundry detergents or not including the right size screws with a product to prevent collapse when in use.
In product liability, you are not required to show that the seller, wholesaler, or manufacturer was negligent. This is referred to as strict liability. Strict liability works in the following way: A person who sustains injury as the direct result of a defective consumer product is entitled to compensation from either the place from which the item was purchased or from the product’s manufacturer. Strict liability operates under a certain set of rules, which apply even if sellers or manufacturers claim they took steps to ensure the product’s safety.
These rules allow for a strict liability claim to be made without proving the seller or manufacturer was careless. All three of these rules must be met for a successful product liability claim to be proven by New York personal injury lawyers.
Rule 1: You sustained an injury while using the product as directed and/or as it was intended to be used;
Rule 2: There were no substantial changes made to the product between the time it was originally purchased and the time you became injured;
Rule 3: The product contained a defect that was unreasonably dangerous and caused you injury when you used it.
Common Defenses Against Strict Liability
As cut and dried as strict liability may seem, there are defenses that a seller or manufacturer of the product you purchased can use against you in order to avoid being legally liable for your injuries. They can claim that you were aware of the defect, but that you continued to use the product despite this. This kind of defense can be successful in cases where a claimant has owned a product for a long period of time.
When strict liability is challenged in this way, the insurance company that represents the manufacturer or seller will often examine the product to determine whether or not the defective condition was, in fact, known to the claimant.
Another common defense will be that the plaintiff did not provide a sufficient enough link between the product and the party who was responsible for either its manufacture or sale. The claim that a plaintiff altered the product after purchase, and this alteration was the cause of their injuries, is another common defense. Finally, manufacturers have claimed to personal lawyers that the plaintiff’s misuse of the product in an unexpected manner was what caused the person’s injuries.
How Product Disclaimers Affect Your Liability Claim
The warning labels and instructions that are included on or with most products are regarded as disclaimers. If you became injured as the result of either ignoring or disobeying these warnings or instructions, a judge could find you liable for causing your own injuries.
However, if labels or instructions are found to be unreasonable, unclear, or vague, this can result in the manufacturer or seller being held liable. Interestingly, even the most explicit warnings and instructions may not help manufacturers and sellers if their products’ dangers outweigh their benefits.
Common Compensation in Product Liability Cases
Product liability cases may end up in court or can be settled out of court. Regardless, the following types of compensation are common and should be requested from the at-fault party by your personal injury lawyer in New York City.
Pain and suffering will compensate you for the negative elements of your injury, such as your discomfort. Emotional distress is related to pain and suffering and includes any conditions which may have developed as the result of your injuries, such as insomnia and anxiety. You should also be compensated for your lost wages, which includes work times missed due to having to go to medical appointments. If your injuries will impact your long-term ability to earn wages, this is another circumstance which should be included in your compensation amount.
Of course, you will also want to ensure you receive compensation for the money spent on your medical bills. This includes physical therapy as well as any other treatment considered to be rehabilitative. Again, your future expenses should be taken into account with your expenses to date.
Statute of Limitations
Before a case can even reach the courtroom, the claim must be made within the statute of limitations for the state in which one lives. For example, according to the New York State Unified Court System, claimants have three years from the date of their injuries or accidents to file a product liability claim.1 In Minnesota, a claimant has four years from the date of injury to file, where Kansas residents have two years to bring their cases to court.
Because you have limited time from the date of injury to file your claim, finding a qualified attorney to represent you is the first and best step you can take where the goal is to win your case.
Finding Your New York Product Liability Lawyer
New York has so many attorneys that choosing the right one for you can be a real challenge. However, you can significantly reduce the number of potential product liability lawyers on your list by ensuring they meet the following criteria.
Product liability law requires any lawyer to have extensive knowledge of product liability law. Ask them if they understand this law, and then request examples of cases that they’ve won. They should be both willing and able to provide you with this information.
Any experienced attorneys will get as much information about your case from you as possible because they know that every detail matters. Attorneys who listen to you and keep the lines of communication open are the ones to defend you in your product liability case. This is because the more information they have, the more able they will be to get you the highest possible amount of money in compensation for your injuries.
The Dearie Law Firm Knows What You’re Going Through
In the 30 years since its founding, the attorneys of The Dearie Law Firm have defended hundreds of successful cases. They know how overwhelming, frightening, and confusing it can be to experience injury as the result of poorly manufactured and designed products. As a client, you are the most important part of our firm. Get in touch with us today to claim your free consultation: (212) 970-6500.