Defective Medical Device and Product Liability Law FAQS
Anytime that you are injured by a product that you purchased, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. However, there is a lot that needs to happen between the time that you are injured and the time that you would receive a payment by way of settlement or judgment. The truth is that product liability lawsuits, whether they are for defective store products, drugs or medical devices are complicated legal matters. If you are in a position where you are considering a product liability lawsuit, you probably have a bunch of questions because you are dealing with an area that you do not know much about. While the best thing that you can do to learn more is to contact a product liability attorney, we figured that we would give you some helpful information and responses to frequently asked questions.
When Would You File a product liability lawsuit?
If you have been injured by a defective product, the law allows you to sue anyone connected with the sale of the product to you (We will explain more about that below). While most of these lawsuits are filed by people who purchase the product, you can even file a claim if you were not the buyer. Anytime you are seeking compensation for an injury or death connected with a defective product, it is called a product liability lawsuit.
How Do You File a Product Liability Lawsuit?
The first thing that you would need to do is contact a lawyer with experience in product liability cases. These are complicated legal matters that involve the presentation of scientific evidence and other expert testimony. Product liability and defective medical device cases are difficult matters that often take years to move through the legal system. Once you have a product liability attorney, they would work on drafting your complaint. This is a document that informs the court and the defendant of the facts behind your claim and the legal basis that would entitle you to relief. Once this is filed, your lawsuit has begun.
When Is a Product Legally Defective?
This depends on the state in which you are filing the case. While the general principles are the same between cases, the standard by which each case is judged is a matter of state law and the precedent in that jurisdiction. Even if you file the case in federal court, the judge or jury will apply the laws of the state.
The general idea of a products liability case is that the product is not safe for its intended use. The product must be unreasonably dangerous. Not every single defect is grounds for a lawsuit. The reasonableness standard is how your case will be judged. This means that there can be different interpretations of whether the product is safe, and it requires a great deal of work and effort on the part of your attorney.
What Are the Different Types of Product Liability Cases?
There are three main types of product liability and defective medical device cases that you can file. They are:
- Design Defect
- Manufacturing Defect
- Marketing Defect
In addition, each product liability case will also rely on various state law claims such as a breach of an express or an implied warranty.
What Is a Design Defect?
A design defect is when the product has a problem with the design that makes it unreasonably dangerous for the consumer. For example, the Ford Pinto was designed with the gas tank in a dangerous position such that the car burst into flames when the car was rear-ended. Another example of a design defect is in the car rollover cases where the vehicles had a tendency to flip over when the driver turned.
What Is a Manufacturing Defect?
In a manufacturing defect case, there may be nothing whatsoever wrong with the design of the product. However, something goes wrong in the manufacturing of the product that makes it unreasonably dangerous. An example of this is the product liability lawsuits involving the drug valsartan. Here, there was an impurity in the manufacturing process that introduced a substance into the medication that is a known carcinogen when people are exposed to it in large enough amounts. Manufacturers must undertake strict quality control before they sell or release a product to ensure that it is safe for consumers to use.
What Is a Marketing Defect?
The most common marketing defect is a failure to warn consumers of the dangers inherent in using a product. In some cases, the manufacturer may not be liable if the consumer used the product with the full knowledge of the dangers. An example of this is the warning label that is attached to medications. If there is a known side effect, the seller is under an obligation to disclose all the risks and complications so the consumer and their physician can make an informed decision about whether they want to take the risk of using the medication. When a seller fails to warn, the consumer cannot make this informed decision.
Whom Can You Sue in A Products Liability Case?
The legal standard is that you can sue anyone in the “stream of commerce” that resulted in your purchase of the product. This means that you can sue anyone from the manufacturer of the product to the store that sold it to you. So long as you were injured by a defective product, anyone involved in the sale can be held liable. It is up to the defendants to fight it out amongst themselves as to who owes you how much. Usually, you will sue the manufacturer of the product because they are the ones with the clearest liability.
How Much Compensation Can You Receive in a Product Liability Lawsuit?
This all depends on how much you have suffered and your own particular suffering. Damages follow the same type of theory as any type of personal injury case. You would be able to receive economic and non-economic damages.
- Economic damages compensate you for actual money that you have lost in some form or fashion. These can include things such as medical costs that you have incurred to treat your injury. Sometimes, an even bigger award is lost wages that you cannot make because of your injury. This includes wages that you have already lost and payment for future lost wages.
- Non-economic damages are subjective and a little harder to measure. These include pain and suffering and payment for your disfigurement and injuries. They can also include things such as loss of consortium and loss of enjoyment of life. Your product liability lawyer will make the case to the jury why they should award you these damages.
It is difficult to say ahead of time exactly how much you would receive in compensation. Of course, your lawyer has a good idea of how to value your claim, but at the end of the day, your damage award would depend on the jury. Many of these elements are subjective, and you would not know ahead of time if the jury would assess punitive damages. This would further magnify the value of your claim.
How Do You Prove a Product Liability Lawsuit?
In order to win a product liability lawsuit, you would need to prove that the product was defective and that you were injured by it. If that is the case, then the manufacturer would be strictly liable for your injuries. Other than that, you would need to show that the product was unreasonably dangerous. You may even be able to win a lawsuit by showing that the manufacturer or seller was negligent in designing or manufacturing the product.
How Long Do I Have to File a Product Liability Lawsuit?
A product liability claim is like any other personal injury lawsuit. There is a statute of limitations that keeps you from filing a lawsuit after it has lapsed. The statute of limitations begins to run on the date that you knew or should have known that you were injured. The limit may vary between states. In many states, the statute of limitations in personal injury cases is set at two years. If you miss the deadline by even a day, you lose the right to file your lawsuit.
Will a Product Liability Lawyer Cost Me Anything?
The short answer is that you only need to pay your attorney if you are successful in your case. Successful means that you have either recovered money in a settlement or won your case that has gone to a trial. In that case, your attorney is paid out of the proceeds of your settlement. They will receive a set percentage of your recovery as specified in your representation agreement. The important thing to know is that you do not need to pay your lawyer out of your own pocket as the case is progressing. If you are not successful, you will not need to pay your attorney’s fees. In that way, your lawyer assumes some of the risk of the case.