Six Things To Know Before Filing A Product Liability Claim

If you have been injured as a result of a faulty product, you may be aware that you have the ability to recover damages related to your injury through a product liability claim. However, do you know all of the ins and outs of the claims process? Here are six things you should know before filing your claim.

1. There are Three Basic Types of Product Liability Claims

There are thousands -- if not millions -- of products that could potentially result in a defect that gives rise to a product liability claim. However, all of these cases generally fit into three basic types of claims, including:

  • Design defects: These are inherent defects that existed even before the product was manufactured. In most states, the burden of proof is on the claimant to show how the defective design decreased the safety of the product for consumers. However, in Alaska, Hawaii, and California, the burden is on the defendant to show that the design of the product was not, in fact, defective.
  • Manufacturing defects: These defects occur during the manufacturing process and generally only impact a few lots of the product that were manufactured at or around the same time. 
  • Marketing defects: This type of defect involves improper packaging or labeling instructions that failed to warn consumers of potential risks for harm that could arise from improper use of the product.

2. You Must Be Able to Prove the Product Defect

In order to have a successful outcome to your product liability claim, you must be able to show the following elements:

  • The product, when used properly, has a defect in either design, manufacturing, or marketing, which makes it unsafe for consumers.
  • The manufacturer or distributor of this product knew or had reason to know that the defect existed but failed to take the proper steps to ensure consumer safety.
  • Because of the defect, the claimant suffered an injury that resulted in expenses and impacts on his or her life.

3. Most (But Not All) Product Liability Claims are Settled Outside of Court

Product liability claims fall under personal injury law. Settlements and awards in this type of case are generally paid by the manufacturer or distributor's insurance policies. Because of this, often the fight is as much against the defendant's insurance carrier as it is against the liable party. It is estimated that up to 95 percent of personal injury claims are settled between the claimant and the defendant's insurance carrier before the case ever sees the inside of a courtroom. That said, it is important to hire an attorney with extensive experience both in settling product liability claims as well as in litigating product liability case and who feels equally comfortable about either method of obtaining compensation on your behalf.

4. You Can File Under Three Different Causes of Action

Just as there are three basic product liability claims, there are also three potential causes of action that this type of claim can be filed under. Those causes of action include:

  • Negligence: In this cause of action, the claimant alleges that the manufacturer or someone else in the supply chain failed to exercise their duty of care in ensuring that the product was safe for consumers.
  • Breach of Warranty: In a case alleging Breach of Warranty, the claimant states that the manufacturer guaranteed the adequacy of the product through a warranty or other claims usually found with the instruction manual or other information provided upon purchase of the product and that the manufacturer failed to make good on that warranty and provide a replacement for the defective product. It should be noted that this warranty may be implied simply through statements the manufacturer makes about the uses of the product, if the product fails during one of its labeled uses.
  • Strict liability: This type of case involves a product that is deemed unreasonably hazardous to humans or property. In a strict liability claim, the claimant does not have to prove that there was negligence on the part of the manufacturer or others in the supply chain, only that the product was defective.

5. Where You File and When are Important Details

Product liability cases, like all personal injury cases, have a time limit in which the case can be filed. This is known as a statute of limitations, and failure to observe this time limit can result in you being unable to make your claim. It is also important that your product liability claim be filed in the proper courthouse in your jurisdiction or the jurisdiction where the liability occurred. Determining the right jurisdiction is one of the many services your attorney can provide for you.

6. Having an Attorney is Crucial to Your Product Liability Claim

Product liability claims are complex and time-consuming. Having an attorney to guide you through this process is crucial to your ability to claim the highest amount of compensation available in your case. Contact us today for experienced guidance in this legal process.