It can be extremely intimidating to try to hold a large manufacturer accountable for product liability. The imbalance of money and resources between a private citizen and a major corporation can, unfortunately, make some victims feel as if pursuing a claim is futile. However, a California product liability lawyer can be instrumental in a successful claim.
California has a history of successful product liability claims that should encourage anyone injured to advance a claim to hold manufacturers liable for their wrongdoing. The first step in this process is to connect with a lawyer to discuss the events that caused your damages.
Understanding Product Liability in California
Product liability is the legal responsibility that manufacturers, distributors, and retailers share for any injuries that have been directly caused by defective or dangerous products. The laws in California are specifically designed to protect consumers from these instances by deterring companies from cutting corners on safety standards.
In the state of California, manufacturers, sellers, and distributors do not have to exhibit negligence to be held liable for consumers’ injuries. The strict liability system means these parties can be held liable any time their products cause an injury.
Any evidence that these standards have not been met, resulting in an injury, constitutes the grounds for the injured individual to seek compensation. The elements of a successful product liability claim include the following:
- The product was defective: One of the most common ways in which products harm consumers is through defects. In some cases, the product’s design was inherently unsafe and should have never been approved to go to market. Other times, a product’s safe design was compromised during production and did not operate in the way it was intended to after reaching the hands of a consumer. If the manufacturer did not provide adequate instructions or warnings, this could also lead to unsafe use and open up the possibility of a civil claim.
- The defect existed before the manufacturer released the product: If a consumer altered the product after receiving it, which led to their injuries, this does not constitute grounds to pursue a product liability claim against the manufacturer. This concept is one of the most defining elements of a product liability claim. A lawyer must make it clear that the defect was present before the consumer purchased it.
- The product was used as intended: A product liability claim is only valid if it was used in a way in which the manufacturer intended. It would not be fair for a manufacturer to be held liable for harming a consumer if the product was used incorrectly despite providing clear instructions and warnings. Therefore, the plaintiff’s lawyers will need to demonstrate exactly how the product was used and what happened to result in an injury.
- The plaintiff suffered injury or loss: A defective product alone is not enough to make a product liability claim. There also needs to be a direct connection between the product and the injury or monetary loss that ensued. This could be physical harm to the body, psychological distress, or even property damage. Without this link, there is no claim.
Q: What Should I Do if I’m Injured by a Product That I No Longer Have?
A: While this might make your case more difficult to prove, it’s still possible. Start documenting everything you can about the incident, including photographs of the injuries and anything else that remains from the product, such as its packaging or an instruction manual. If there is anyone in your life who can speak to the incident or that you owned the product, this can help.
This evidence could help to make up for the fact that the product is no longer in your possession. A product liability attorney will be able to help you navigate these types of challenges.
Q: How Does California’s Comparative Negligence Rule Apply to Product Liability Cases?
A: California’s comparative negligence rule can have certain implications on a product liability case. The defendant could attempt to prove that the consumer misused the product, despite clear instructions and warnings, which contributed to their injury. In these instances, the burden of proof is placed on the defendant.
Even if this is partly true, the plaintiff may still have an opportunity to receive partial compensation for their negative experience. An attorney could help to maximize your compensation package.
Q: What Happens if a Product Is Recalled After It Injures Me?
A: If a product that injured you is later recalled, this is an additional piece of evidence to support your product liability case. It indicates that the manufacturer acknowledges a defect or safety issue. Many times, the recall happens because someone else may have had a similar experience to yours.
Despite the recall, you should still work with an attorney to establish the link between the product’s defect and your injury. The recall can boost the quality of your case, but your damages must still be proven.
Q: How Do Class Action Lawsuits Work in Product Liability Cases?
A: A class action lawsuit is filed when a large number of people have all been injured by a particular product in a similar way. Rather than each person suing the company individually, which could be thousands of lawsuits or more, a class action lawsuit allows for one or multiple plaintiffs to sue on behalf of the entire group. This can be extremely efficient and save everyone involved significant legal expenses.
If you are considering joining a class action lawsuit to pursue compensation for your injury, connect with an attorney to understand its implications.
Reach Out to McLachlan Law, APC, for Comprehensive Legal Support
If you are involved in a product liability case and need legal support, contact our attorneys today. We understand how frightening it can be to challenge the authority of a large corporation, and we can help ensure your rights are protected. From gathering evidence to filing a claim and obtaining compensation, we can help you hold manufacturers, sellers, or distributors accountable for your damages.