Frequently Asked Questions
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Product Liability

  1. What does the term product liability mean?
  2. If I am injured or a loved one is killed by a defective product, against whom can I make a claim?
  3. What must be proven in a product liability case?
  4. Isn't it hard to take on a product manufacturer in a legal case?
  5. If the product manufacturers spend so much money defending cases, how does a plaintiff ever win?
  6. What if the products contained a disclaimer? Does the manufacturer still have a duty to warn?
  7. What if the product that injured me is old?
  8. What damages can I recover in a defective product case?
  9. When is a manufacturer liable for injury caused by a defective product?
  10. Do I need to retain an attorney and how soon?

Questions & Answers

What does the term product liability mean?
Answer:
Literally speaking this is an area of the law, which requires manufacturers to design, manufacture (including quality control) and provide proper instructions and warnings. Role: Foreseeable uses of there products for all consumers foreseeable users. This applies to all products, from toys and cribs, to automobiles, industrial products and medical devices.

[If a product manufacturer does not produce and inspect and therefore sends out into the public domain a defected product, the manufacture is liable for the injuries and damages caused by the defective product.]

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If I am injured or a loved one is killed by a defective product, against whom can I make a claim?
Answer:
You may make a claim against the manufacturer of the product, and in some instants the seller of the product such as a distributor. If there had been changes made to the product or repairs, the individuals or entities involved in changing the product or making the repairs may also have some responsibility depending upon what was done and when.

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What must be proven in a product liability case?
Answer:
There are three basic elements in a product liability case:  (1) The product must have been in a defective condition on reasonably dangerous for its intended use. This can include negligence in the design of a product, a manufacturing defect which occurs when the product is sent out into the public without proper quality control and inspection, and/or if the warnings and instructions are improper; (2) The defect must have existed when the product left the manufacturer control and (3) the defect must have been the proximate cause of the injury or death. Proximate cause is a legal term, which means a cause, and not necessarily the only and single cause.

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Isn't it hard to take on a product manufacturer in a legal case?
Answer:
Product manufacturers and their insurers spare no expense in defending claims for injuries caused by claim defect in a product. Pursuing such claims requires selection of lawyers and law firms. You have the finical resources to press forward with a claim, as well as the expertise to properly research all of the factual issues and develop a solid strategy prior to starting the lawsuit against the manufacturer. A case that is well researched and thoroughly investigated on behalf of a claim has much better chances of success against a large product manufacturer and their insurer.

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If the product manufacturers spend so much money defending cases, how does a plaintiff ever win?
Answer:
It is important to retain attorney’s who have experience with “products liability” claims and have the finical resources to promptly investigate and prosecute a “product liability” case against a wealthy product manufacturer. Prompt and thorough investigation is very important as soon as possible after an injury or death caused by a defective product. A “product liability” lawyer thoroughly prepares a case prior to starting the lawsuit, and is knowledgeable to identify the issues and must be explored through pre-trial discovery after the lawsuit is started. To identify all issues regarding design, manufacturing and instructing to give a plaintiff and the surviving members of his/her family the best chance of this successful claim. It is this thoroughness of preparation knowledgeable attorneys that gives plaintiffs the significance and advantage in obtaining a successful result in the “product liability” case.

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What if the products contained a disclaimer? Does the manufacturer still have a duty to warn?
Answer:
A product disclaimer does not in of its self-shield to manufacturer from liability. The use to which the product is put is foreseeable and/or is the type of product that foreseeable will be used by inexperienced consumers; the product manufacturer still has reasonability for injury and death.

It is well established that a product manufacturer has a duty to warn and instruct in the proper use of its product at the time the product leaves the manufacturer. In situations were the product manufacturer is receiving information about failures of its product in the field there can arise an additional obligation to warn and instruct: This is called a post sale duty to warn. It may include an obligation to retrofit and/or recall the product before additional injuries and deaths occur.

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What if the product that injured me is old?
Answer:
The manufacturer has ongoing duty and obligations, depending on the nature and use of its product. The concept of useful live is a legal principal allowing a jury and judge to decide that if the product is one that a manufacturer knows will last a long time, can still hold the manufacturer reasonable, particularly if component parts are still being sold for the old product. If an old product looks dangerous, to an ordinary user, then obviously it should not be used and should be destroyed or taken out of service.

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What damages can I recover in a defective product case?
Answer:
You can recover for past and future medical expenses, funeral and last related injury expenses, pain, disability and emotional distress, and disfigurement, all both past and future. If your capacity to earn a living has been impaired you may recover for diminished earning capacity. Your uninjured spouse may also have a right to recover for the loss of your services and society caused by your injury covered disability and/or disfigurement.

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When is a manufacturer liable for injury caused by a defective product?
Answer:
This can happen when the manufacturer either admits reasonability and accepts liability, or after the lawsuit has started the manufacturer is persuaded, the plaintiff’s lawyer has obtained sufficient information for a jury to find the manufacturer responsible by a verdict, then the manufacturer can settle. Also, if the manufacturer does not except responsibility or does not settle prior to the trial, the lawyer for the plaintiff may obtain a jury verdict requiring a manufacturer to be liable for the injuries caused by its product.

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Do I need to retain an attorney and how soon?
Answer:
Product manufacturers and their insurers have significant resources and personal to immediately begin preparing a defense of the claim. It is in your best interest and the best interest of the survivors of the lost love one to retain an acknowledgeable product liability attorney as soon as possible. Gathering evidence as soon after an injury occurs for the evidence or any pieces of evidence are lost can be crucial to the successful outcome of your claim.

The attorneys at Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben, P.A. have experience representing victims of dangerous and defective product accidents. We understand the trauma and life-changing effects that serious injuries can have on both the victim and victim's family. It is important to know your legal rights if you, or someone you care about, have been the victim of a dangerous or defective product accident.

For over 35 years, Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben, P.A. has represented more than 35,000 people who have been injured in all types of accidents including those who have been injured in product liability accidents. In addition our legal team has answered over 300,000 injury-related legal questions. When an injury from a product liability accident occurs and legal help is needed, experience counts.

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