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Product Liability Injury

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche addresses Product Liability Injury.

Brien Roche

Product liability injury cases must be thoroughly reviewed as part of the evaluation process. Gathering information about the product may consist of looking at FDA recalls, market withdrawals, safety alerts and warning letters issued to manufacturers. www.recalls.gov offers information and subscription services about recalls for consumer products, vehicles, food, medicine and environmental products. Consideration must be given to whether federal preemption may apply. In addition the financial viability of the defendant must be considered. The medical literature must be reviewed to assess the chances of proving causation between the product and the injuries incurred. It is worthwhile also to determine if other law firms are accepting cases of this nature. If so, consideration should be given to either making a referral or teaming up with that other firm.

Product Liability Injury Cases: Three Categories

In looking at the product it is critical to determine what is its intended use and what is its actual use. Product liability cases fall into three categories: manufacturing, design and failure to warn.

Product Liability Injury Cases-Causation

In looking at the issue of causation you must determine if the product is capable of causing the injury in question and did it cause the injury in question. To answer those questions you need a thorough understanding of the mechanism of injury.

Product Liability Statute of Limitations

The applicable statute of limitations must also be determined. In Virginia that limitation typically is two years. The tricky part is determining when two years began to run. It is conceivable under Virginia law that a claim may be time-barred before the plaintiff even knows that a claim exist. Virginia is a jurisdiction where the limitation period begins to run when any injury is incurred. It is conceivable that a plaintiff may have suffered some injury without even knowing it. In addition consideration must be given to giving notice to seller of the product of the alleged defect. This may be required for warranty claims.

Product liability injury cases can be rewarding, challenging and satisfying. The key to success is careful case analysis, client evaluation, causation determination and assessment of the scope of damage.

Who Can Sue for Product Liability Injuries

In most cases, if you are injured by a defective product, you will be able to sue for your product liability injuries.

Buyer

You don’t have to be the actual buyer of the defective product to sue for damages. If you were injured by a defective product, you may still recover damages. For example, assume your mother bought you a new shampoo to use. After one application of the shampoo, you experience scalp irritation and hair loss. Even though your mother was the actual purchaser of the shampoo, you suffered injuries caused by the shampoo. In this scenario, you may sue the company that manufactured the shampoo.

Product User

You don’t have to be using the defective product at the time of injury to sue for damages. The only requirement you have meet is that you suffered injury that was caused by the defective product. For example, your neighbor is mowing his lawn with a lawnmower. As the neighbor turns the lawnmower to cut a patch of grass, one of the blades flies off and strikes you in the face. You may sue for damages because the defective product caused your product liability injuries.

Who Can be Sued

Any party that is in the chain of distribution may be sued for injuries caused by the defective product in question. The chain of distribution is the path that the product takes from manufacturing to being sold. This path includes a host of different entities from distributors to individual makers of parts and components.

Manufacturers

Manufacturers are at the start of the chain of distribution. Manufacturers include the makers of the defective component of the product and the makers of the defective product.  Manufacturers of the larger defective product are liable because they used a defective part in making the defective product, which led to that product’s defect. For example, you buy a Ford Taurus. One day while driving the Taurus, the stock tire on the car explodes, causing you to drive into a tree and suffer neck injuries. You can sue both Ford, who manufactured the car, and the company that manufactured the tire.

Retailers

Retailers may be liable for your product liability injuries even though they did not manufacture the defective product. The fact that the retailer sold you the defective put it within the chain of distribution and is thus subject to product liability.

Wholesalers and Distributors

Wholesalers and distributors make up the middle part of the chain of distribution. Because they are the driving force in moving the defective product from manufacturer to retailer, they may be liable for injuries caused by a defective product.  Be sure these entities are in your suit for product liability injuries.

Product Liability Litigation-Research Sources

Product liability litigation can be complicated.  There are a number of excellent sources for research dealing with these types of cases:

  • www.recalls.gov is a site where you can search the records of each major federal product safety agency for recall information.  It also links to agency websites with additional information.
  • www.cpsc.gov is the website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission which provides information on product safety regulations and injury statistics.
  • www.saferproducts.gov is a site where you can search reported product complaints.
  • www.fda.gov is the site of the FDA which provides detailed prescription drug information and adverse event reports.
  • www.epa.gov is a site that reports information on pesticides and herbicides.
  • www.nhtsa.gov is the site of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which has research and standards on traffic and vehicle safety.
  • You may want to check the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for potential reports of industry accidents.
  • A FOIA request may well be in order to make sure that you have any government agency reports relating to the incident.  Instructions on how to file such a request are available at www.foia.gov.
  • www.astm.org is an excellent site for finding standards.
  • www.ansi.org has a searchable database.
  • Underwriters’ Laboratories maintains a website that may have pertinent information.

Product Liability Litigation-Questioning

In the course of product liability litigation the deposition of the manufacturer’s designee may be critical.  This designee needs to be someone who can testify about the design, manufacture, distribution and intended use of the product.  A fruitful line of questioning of such a witness may consist of the following:

  • Does the witness believe that a company that designs, manufactures or sells a product should be familiar with regulations and standards intended to protect the consumer?
  • Does the company in fact follow the applicable regulations or standards and if so, why so?
  • Must a responsible company follow the standards in order to prevent consumer injuries?

These can all be productive questions that may lead to certain concessions from the defense witness.

Product Liability Tips

In a product liability claim, under no circumstances should you ever return the item to the manufacturer or allow the insurance company that is representing the manufacturer to have access to it for testing purposes.

If your defective product injury is indeed significant, you need to contact an experienced product liability lawyer who can assist you in terms of not only investigating the claim but also acting as a buffer between you and the insurance company in terms of handling the claim and litigating the claim if necessary.

If a breach of warranty claim is to be asserted it is important that if you are the purchaser then you must give notice to the seller/manufacturer of the injury and the circumstances as to how it occurred.The failure to provide this notice in a reasonable time may be a bar to your claim.

Implied warranties typically come in the form of implied warranties of merchantability meaning that  the product is reasonably fit for the intended purpose or it may come in the form of an implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose meaning that the user has disclosed the intended purpose to the seller and the seller has represented that the product is fit for that purpose.

To some extent these implied warranty claims are governed by the Uniform Commercial Code which is a segment of Virginia law that as been codified and deals principally with commercial transactions involving the sale or rental of goods.

In order to prove a product liability claim it is necessary that the product be shown to be defective for one of the reasons mentioned above.  That normally necessitates the use of expert testimony in order to prove that defect.  In addition, the plaintiff then must prove not only that there was a defect but that the defect was, in fact, a cause of the plaintiff’s injury.

Seeking Legal Help For Product Liability Injuries

Experienced legal counsel can help determine who you can sue for damages due to your injury. Choosing a lawyer specialized in products liability will be a great help to you as you seek damages for your injury.

For more information on product liability see the page on Wikipedia. For further information on product defects see the other pages on this site.

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Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Product Liability Injury

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche addresses Product Liability Injury.

Brien Roche

Product liability injury cases must be thoroughly reviewed as part of the evaluation process. Gathering information about the product may consist of looking at FDA recalls, market withdrawals, safety alerts and warning letters issued to manufacturers. www.recalls.gov offers information and subscription services about recalls for consumer products, vehicles, food, medicine and environmental products. Consideration must be given to whether federal preemption may apply. In addition the financial viability of the defendant must be considered. The medical literature must be reviewed to assess the chances of proving causation between the product and the injuries incurred. It is worthwhile also to determine if other law firms are accepting cases of this nature. If so, consideration should be given to either making a referral or teaming up with that other firm.

Product Liability Injury Cases: Three Categories

In looking at the product it is critical to determine what is its intended use and what is its actual use. Product liability cases fall into three categories: manufacturing, design and failure to warn.

Product Liability Injury Cases-Causation

In looking at the issue of causation you must determine if the product is capable of causing the injury in question and did it cause the injury in question. To answer those questions you need a thorough understanding of the mechanism of injury.

Product Liability Statute of Limitations

The applicable statute of limitations must also be determined. In Virginia that limitation typically is two years. The tricky part is determining when two years began to run. It is conceivable under Virginia law that a claim may be time-barred before the plaintiff even knows that a claim exist. Virginia is a jurisdiction where the limitation period begins to run when any injury is incurred. It is conceivable that a plaintiff may have suffered some injury without even knowing it. In addition consideration must be given to giving notice to seller of the product of the alleged defect. This may be required for warranty claims.

Product liability injury cases can be rewarding, challenging and satisfying. The key to success is careful case analysis, client evaluation, causation determination and assessment of the scope of damage.

Who Can Sue for Product Liability Injuries

In most cases, if you are injured by a defective product, you will be able to sue for your product liability injuries.

Buyer

You don’t have to be the actual buyer of the defective product to sue for damages. If you were injured by a defective product, you may still recover damages. For example, assume your mother bought you a new shampoo to use. After one application of the shampoo, you experience scalp irritation and hair loss. Even though your mother was the actual purchaser of the shampoo, you suffered injuries caused by the shampoo. In this scenario, you may sue the company that manufactured the shampoo.

Product User

You don’t have to be using the defective product at the time of injury to sue for damages. The only requirement you have meet is that you suffered injury that was caused by the defective product. For example, your neighbor is mowing his lawn with a lawnmower. As the neighbor turns the lawnmower to cut a patch of grass, one of the blades flies off and strikes you in the face. You may sue for damages because the defective product caused your product liability injuries.

Who Can be Sued

Any party that is in the chain of distribution may be sued for injuries caused by the defective product in question. The chain of distribution is the path that the product takes from manufacturing to being sold. This path includes a host of different entities from distributors to individual makers of parts and components.

Manufacturers

Manufacturers are at the start of the chain of distribution. Manufacturers include the makers of the defective component of the product and the makers of the defective product.  Manufacturers of the larger defective product are liable because they used a defective part in making the defective product, which led to that product’s defect. For example, you buy a Ford Taurus. One day while driving the Taurus, the stock tire on the car explodes, causing you to drive into a tree and suffer neck injuries. You can sue both Ford, who manufactured the car, and the company that manufactured the tire.

Retailers

Retailers may be liable for your product liability injuries even though they did not manufacture the defective product. The fact that the retailer sold you the defective put it within the chain of distribution and is thus subject to product liability.

Wholesalers and Distributors

Wholesalers and distributors make up the middle part of the chain of distribution. Because they are the driving force in moving the defective product from manufacturer to retailer, they may be liable for injuries caused by a defective product.  Be sure these entities are in your suit for product liability injuries.

Product Liability Litigation-Research Sources

Product liability litigation can be complicated.  There are a number of excellent sources for research dealing with these types of cases:

  • www.recalls.gov is a site where you can search the records of each major federal product safety agency for recall information.  It also links to agency websites with additional information.
  • www.cpsc.gov is the website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission which provides information on product safety regulations and injury statistics.
  • www.saferproducts.gov is a site where you can search reported product complaints.
  • www.fda.gov is the site of the FDA which provides detailed prescription drug information and adverse event reports.
  • www.epa.gov is a site that reports information on pesticides and herbicides.
  • www.nhtsa.gov is the site of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which has research and standards on traffic and vehicle safety.
  • You may want to check the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for potential reports of industry accidents.
  • A FOIA request may well be in order to make sure that you have any government agency reports relating to the incident.  Instructions on how to file such a request are available at www.foia.gov.
  • www.astm.org is an excellent site for finding standards.
  • www.ansi.org has a searchable database.
  • Underwriters’ Laboratories maintains a website that may have pertinent information.

Product Liability Litigation-Questioning

In the course of product liability litigation the deposition of the manufacturer’s designee may be critical.  This designee needs to be someone who can testify about the design, manufacture, distribution and intended use of the product.  A fruitful line of questioning of such a witness may consist of the following:

  • Does the witness believe that a company that designs, manufactures or sells a product should be familiar with regulations and standards intended to protect the consumer?
  • Does the company in fact follow the applicable regulations or standards and if so, why so?
  • Must a responsible company follow the standards in order to prevent consumer injuries?

These can all be productive questions that may lead to certain concessions from the defense witness.

Product Liability Tips

In a product liability claim, under no circumstances should you ever return the item to the manufacturer or allow the insurance company that is representing the manufacturer to have access to it for testing purposes.

If your defective product injury is indeed significant, you need to contact an experienced product liability lawyer who can assist you in terms of not only investigating the claim but also acting as a buffer between you and the insurance company in terms of handling the claim and litigating the claim if necessary.

If a breach of warranty claim is to be asserted it is important that if you are the purchaser then you must give notice to the seller/manufacturer of the injury and the circumstances as to how it occurred.The failure to provide this notice in a reasonable time may be a bar to your claim.

Implied warranties typically come in the form of implied warranties of merchantability meaning that  the product is reasonably fit for the intended purpose or it may come in the form of an implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose meaning that the user has disclosed the intended purpose to the seller and the seller has represented that the product is fit for that purpose.

To some extent these implied warranty claims are governed by the Uniform Commercial Code which is a segment of Virginia law that as been codified and deals principally with commercial transactions involving the sale or rental of goods.

In order to prove a product liability claim it is necessary that the product be shown to be defective for one of the reasons mentioned above.  That normally necessitates the use of expert testimony in order to prove that defect.  In addition, the plaintiff then must prove not only that there was a defect but that the defect was, in fact, a cause of the plaintiff’s injury.

Seeking Legal Help For Product Liability Injuries

Experienced legal counsel can help determine who you can sue for damages due to your injury. Choosing a lawyer specialized in products liability will be a great help to you as you seek damages for your injury.

For more information on product liability see the page on Wikipedia. For further information on product defects see the other pages on this site.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Contact Us For A Free Consultation