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Understanding Your Rights After a Product-Related Injury

We use commercially-made products every day, but what happens when those products contain a defect that causes injury? Is it possible to recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, or even pain and suffering after you’ve been injured by a product defect? In California, product liability lawsuits can be complex – particularly when they involve major corporations. Working with a personal injury lawyer can ensure you are able to recover for your losses under a product liability claim.

Understanding Personal Injury and Product Defect Claims

California law explicitly states that designers, manufacturers, and sellers of products are to be held strictly liable when the product is defective and causes an injury. Whether or not there was negligence involved on their part is irrelevant. That makes product defect claims substantially different from personal injury claims, which require a plaintiff to prove that the defendant’s negligence caused their injury. When a product is defective, that standard doesn’t apply – the plaintiff need only prove that the product’s defect caused their injury.

What are Product Defects?

Three types of defects can lead to a product defect lawsuit. They are: 

  1. Design defect. A design defect occurs when a product’s design specifications are inherently unsafe. Despite being manufactured according to instruction, a product with a design defect would be shown to be dangerous. The only way the product would be rendered safe would be to re-design the product altogether.
  2. Manufacturing defect. A manufacturing defect occurs when the product was not built to design specifications, and was either damaged, not assembled properly, contained the wrong parts, or was otherwise manufactured incorrectly. 
  3. Inadequate warnings. Even if the product is designed and manufactured exactly as expected, a product could be considered defective if the product did not contain warning labels or information about the possible dangers involved with using this product. 

Who is Liable for a Product Defect?

Product liability claims are rarely straightforward and can often involve multiple parties. An experienced personal injury lawyer can certainly assist you in determining who might be responsible for the cost of your injuries.

The defendant in a product liability claim could be any party in the product’s chain of distribution. Every product undergoes multiple stages, changing hands at each turn. As such, product defect liability can be attributed to any of the following actors:

  • Manufacturers: Though a manufacturer may seem like an obvious scapegoat, it’s important to remember that there are multiple parties involved in the manufacturing process. Many products contain components that are made by a variety of different suppliers, and these products could affect the manufacturing process as a whole. Normally, a manufacturer would nonetheless be considered liable, and held in joint liability with one of the suppliers. 
  • Wholesalers or distributors: When manufacturers complete fabrication and send to a wholesaler or distributor for packaging, shipping and other logistics, mistakes can happen. It will be crucial to determine at which stage a defect occurred in order to determine whether the wholesaler or distributor is liable for the injury.
  • Retailers: Claims may be made against retailers who sold the defective product, as California law doesn’t provide an “innocent seller” exclusion like other states do. If the product’s defect is found to be the cause of your injury, the retailer may also be on the hook.

Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer to Go Up Against Big Corporations

Major corporations involved in products liability claims have an endless amount of resources available to ensure that your case does not move forward. They will file senseless motions, refuse to honor requests for discoveries, and essentially bury the case in paperwork knowing that your financial resources are unmatched to theirs. It’s important to work with an experienced attorney who can navigate these strategies when seeking damages for product defects.