Orange County Product Liability Lawyers
Nationwide, people interact with products 24/7, even in their sleep. The bed you lie on and the clothes you wear are consumer products. Most days will go without incident since products are tested repeatedly before reaching the shelves. However, some products make it to consumers with defects, causing severe injuries.
When a minor incident does not result in injuries, most consumers will just return the product. However, when a defective product causes injuries and losses, you should exercise your right to hold the manufacturer accountable.
If you suffer an injury from a product, do not return it. Keep the defective product, get medical attention, and contact our Orange County product liability attorneys at Bentley & More LLP.
What is the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)?
The agency that monitors all products is the Consumer Product Safety Commission. They report that millions of people visit emergency rooms yearly for product-related injuries. Their goal is to save lives and keep families safe by monitoring the safety of different consumer products. They issue and enforce mandatory standards, obtain product recalls, arrange repairs or replacements, and research potential product hazards. The agency also works to educate consumers and works with governments and organizations.
When a company or organization realizes a defect with one of its products, it will issue a recall. Companies will do this when they get reports of a current or potential danger, and it also helps them avoid liability for injuries. The manufacturer issues a recall to everyone they sold their product. The product must be returned to its point of purchase and removed from shelves. The manufacturer can replace, repair, or refund the product.
In large products like motor vehicles, the recall can be a component that requires vehicle owners to go to a dealership and have it replaced. Recalls can be mandatory or voluntary depending on the circumstances. Voluntary recalls are done on behalf of the company and are mandatory when the CPSC orders it to protect the public. Manufacturers can also issue public campaigns to get the products out of consumers’ hands faster.
Legal definitions of defective product
A defective product does not work as intended. When it causes an injury during intended use, that opens the eligibility requirements for a product liability lawsuit. There are three categories of defects for consumer products: design, manufacturing, and marketing. When filing a claim, you must prove which of these caused your injury.
Design defects occur when the original design is unreasonably dangerous. Any use of this product can cause an injury. The product must satisfy California’s risk/benefit or consumer expectation test. As a plaintiff in a lawsuit, you must prove that the product does not pass either test. The consumer expectation test addresses the product’s performance and the assumption that an ordinary consumer would use the product in that manner.
These typically cover everyday use products, and you must prove:
- The defendant manufactured and sold the product
- The product did not perform as the consumer expected
- You suffered an injury
- Product use leads to your injury
The risk/benefit test weighs the risk and benefits of the product. You must prove that the risks outweigh the benefits, while the defendant aims to prove the opposite. You must also show you suffered harm from the use of the product and that the defendant was the manufacturer and distributor of the product.
These defects happen during the manufacturing process, resulting from mistakes in instructions or the workforce. The product appears safe but can cause injury and death upon use. Any time the product deviates from the intended manufacturing result that is a defect. It can be one or a batch of products in the assembly line.
When labeling a product, manufacturers must affix warning labels addressing any hazardous part of the product. A lack of instructions is sufficient to be a marketing defect. While the product is safe, it must have warnings about safety and other risks. Without these warnings, it poses an unreasonable risk to the consumer.
Liability for defective products
Since millions of consumer products are on the market, many injury victims wonder who they can hold liable for their losses. Any party involved in a product’s design, manufacturing, or sale can be held responsible for injuries. Some entities you can hold liable for your injuries include manufacturers, wholesalers, licensors, and retailers.
Organizations that design or market a product. This can include individual or global companies for smaller items. A parts manufacturer can also be liable for larger products like vehicles, machinery, and boats. You need to determine who the manufacturer is because it is often different from the proprietor.
Wholesaler or distributor
You can hold distributors and wholesalers liable if they are aware of a product defect and continue distributing it. When a product has a defect, wholesalers and distributors will get a notice to remove it from the shelf or stop distributing it. They must do so immediately or risk liability for any injuries.
Sometimes retailers will make products so they can sell them faster. They can say the product is safe and issue marketing materials implying safety. While the retailer did not manufacture the product, they can still be held responsible for a product-related injury for inaccurate marketing.
Franchisors and licensors
Other entities that are part of the marketing efforts of a product are licensors and franchisors. They present the product similarly to retailers. Since they offer similar functions, they have the same responsibilities. If an injury occurs related to the marketing of the product, they can also be held liable.
Fault is the most challenging aspect of a product liability lawsuit, especially when multiple parties are involved. You need the advice and assistance of a product liability attorney in Orange County.
Damages you can seek
Regardless of how you sustain an injury, if a product causes you harm, you have the right to seek compensation. You have legal options to hold negligent parties responsible for their actions. Victims can seek compensatory and punitive damages for product liability cases. While they are both available, courts rarely award punitive damages. The court can decide to award punitive damages when fraud, malice, or oppression occurs. Compensatory damages are common, but they are challenging to obtain.
These damages include payment for:
- Lost income
- Medical expenses
- Future lost income
- Future medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Property damage
- Recovery and rehabilitation costs like physical therapy
- Medical devices like canes, wheelchairs, or prosthetics
- Home modifications like installing handrails for ramps
There can be other damages that you can incur from a product-related injury, but you must discuss your losses with Bentley & More LLP, for an accurate assessment.
Strict product liability
While in many cases, the defense will have the opportunity to shift the blame and use excuses to argue their innocence, some products in Orange County fall under strict liability. In these cases, an accident involving these products and with sufficient evidence can be easier to handle than negligence cases. Hoover, the defendant, can argue it was a breach of warranty or negligence, which opens up their defense strategies.
Products in strict liability are:
- Safety devices
- Real property
- Aircraft navigational landing charts
- Unnatural substances in food
- Component parts
- Products sold directly to consumers, like chemicals, medical equipment, weapons, explosives, and more
You need experienced product liability lawyers in Orange County to determine if your product falls under strict liability. If your claim does not fall under this category, it can be a breach of warranty or negligence claim instead.
Breach of warranty
When your claim is due to a breach of warranty, you will need to show the product had a warranty. Injury victims must also show the defendant failed to meet the warranty terms. The warranty can be implied or expressed. Express warranties are created through sales contracts, and implied is a guarantee that the product isn’t defective or mislabeled. Both warranty types apply to consumer products.
If you must pursue compensation through a negligence claim, you must prove various factors. You will need to show the defendant owed you a duty of reasonable care and that they breached that duty. It was the primary cause of your injuries when they breached their duty. Lastly, you suffer losses from your injury. The basis of negligence applies to most personal injury cases in California. This process is what most injury lawyers are familiar with, but product liability claims are very complex.
Proving product liability
These cases are very complex, and after determining the basis of your claim, it is time to build a strategy based on evidence. You must close the gap between your allegation that the injury was the cause of the product and proving it was. This part of your case will be the longest, and not every local personal injury attorney can handle these claims.
Some evidence you may need for your case include:
- Medical records
- The product
- Proof of how you used the product
- Product test result
- Expert testimony regarding the flaw
Proving product liability cases can require expert witnesses on top of the physical evidence you present. Companies are unwilling to take responsibility and pay victims for losses, so the proof is vital. You will need a tenacious and connected Orange County product liability attorney.
Class action lawsuits
Sometimes the actions of manufacturers are so egregious that many individuals suffer injuries from a defective product. The manufacturer mass produces a defect, and the injury victims can join a class-action lawsuit. Multiple victims who suffer the same or similar injuries from a defective product can pursue legal recourse in a single case. There are pros and cons to taking this route, and you should discuss your best option with an Orange County product liability attorney.
You need expert witnesses
Since these complex cases come with many pitfalls, you may need an expert witness to provide additional evidence. Medical experts can provide a direct correlation between your injuries and the product defect. The defendant will likely want an unbiased opinion regarding your injuries, and they can also send you for an independent medical examination. If your injury impairs your ability to enjoy life or work, you may need an economist or financial expert to calculate your future losses.
Experts are indispensable for proving product liability cases. These experts can explain to the judge or jury the product defect, how they identify the product, how dangerous it is, and how those dangers led to your injuries. Product experts will also advise your lawyer on how to proceed, which helps build your case.
A product liability lawyer can help
Aside from experts that can help your case, Orange County product liability lawyers are indispensable. With so much information coming in, you will need someone to decipher it.
Some personal injury lawyers will realize they need assistance as a case progresses. If you are handling a complex but strong case that requires additional advice or resources, Bentley & More LLP can help you. We take attorney referrals.
Bentley & More, LLP has the resources to help
Whether you are an injury victim or a lawyer handling a case out of your wheelhouse, Bentley & More LLP is here to help. Our firm comprises personal injury lawyers who will fight for our clients. Reach out to a Orange County personal injury lawyer. We handle complex cases and work closely with our clients to understand their lives, needs, and how the injury has impacted them. We have tailor-made solutions for you. Contact us at Bentley & More LLP, at (949) 617-0938 for your free consultation when a product fails.
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Bentley & More LLP – Orange County Office
Phone: (949) 617-0938