If you have purchased a product that you assume is defective, you may wonder what legal options you have available. No matter how defective or dangerous the product was, the answer is that you may not have an legal claim if you did not suffer injuries. The reason being that a successful claim relies on four key elements – and one element would be missing.
Regardless, if you have an injury or not, you should understand your rights and how these laws apply before assuming you do not have a case. Speak with a product liability attorney to explore your options.
The Basics of a Product Liability Case in Stamford, CT
To have a valid product liability claim, you must meet four basic elements. These elements are needed not only to file a claim, but to be awarded a settlement by judge or jury. The four basic elements include:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care. You must show that the defense owed a duty of care. Manufacturers are held to a higher standard when it comes to consumer products. They must ensure all products that are released are safe and in compliance with any codes. They must also perform quality control checks to ensure products are free from defects prior to release.
- Breach of duty by the company. Now you must prove that the defendant breached their duty of care owed to the consumer, which entails showing how they allowed a defective product to injure consumers. This could include knowingly releasing a product with a defective design, not using quality control measures to ensure products were manufactured without defects, etc.
- Injuries occurred from the breach of duty. You must now show that the breach of duty caused the injuries. When you have no injury, it is impossible to prove that there was a breach of duty that would have injured you.
- Damages were sustained. Because you were injured, you suffered damages. These may include medical costs, lost wages, pain, suffering, and so forth. If you do not have a physical injury, you have no compensation other than the cost of the product, which does not warrant a lawsuit for personal injury.
As you can see, you would need injuries and damages to have a valid claim.
If you have been injured by a defective product, and you meet the four elements above, then you could file an injury lawsuit and seek damages against the manufacturer. To do this, you would need to review the parties in the chain of distribution with an attorney to determine which party is responsible.
Usually, a product liability case will have more than one defendant, because the product distribution line will involve multiple parties.
The Parties in the Chain of Distribution
You want to include any parties that are involved in the chain of distribution when you are filing a product liability claim. There are different entities involved at various points of the distribution; therefore, you will need to identify each one with your attorney to see which parties may be named in your lawsuit.
The start of the distribution chain has the manufacturer. This party is responsible for creating the product and can range from a multinational corporation to a small business or even a single party working from home.
If the defective product comes from a larger product, such as a component that is faulty, then there may be a supplier or second manufacturer of that component. This is because numerous products on the market will contain multiple parts made by different parties.
For example, if you were injured by an exploding battery in a cellphone, but the cellphone manufacturer was not the same person for the battery, then you may still have a claim against both parties.
Anyone that is involved in the manufacturing line can be named in the manufacturer lawsuit. That includes anyone that manufactures, design, or markets the product.
Retailer or Wholesaler
The retail store may be where you purchased the product, but that party did not manufacturer it. However, the retailer may still be part of the distribution chain depending on how and when you purchased that product.
When you are not the buyer of the actual product
Even if you did not purchase the product, you may still be able to recover damages for your injures. For example, you took a medication given to you by a family member, but you did not purchase it. That medication turned out to be tainted, and as a result you became ill. You can still bring a suit against the company that made the product or the store where the product was purchased.
When you are not the product’s user
If you are injured by a defective product that someone was using at the time, you could still have a valid claim. For example, someone is using a knife by you and the blade comes loose and cuts you. You could still have a defective claim against the manufacturer or party that distributed that knife, even if you were not using it or buying it, because the defect caused your injuries.
Used products may still apply
If you purchased the product used, you may still be able to sue the supplier, but it will depend on the defect and where you purchased it. Also, if that used product is past any manufacturer recommended expiration dates, was modified, or not used as intended than the manufacturer, supplier, or party that sold it to you, the manufacturer may not be liable.
Does a Recall Make the Manufacturer Liable?
Sometimes a manufacturer will be alerted of a defective product. To avoid any further injuries or liability, they will recall that product. While the courts allow for evidence of a recall to establish that a product is defective, a company’s act of recalling the product does not mean that it was defective.
Instead, you must still establish the elements of a product liability lawsuit as originally laid out. You must show not only that there was a defect, but that the defect is what caused your injury. If you have no injury, a defective product is not going to yield positive results.
Other times, courts may not allow that a recall is submitted as evidence. In some cases, the court might feel that the jury would be prejudiced if they knew a recall was issued.
Does a Recall Protect the Manufacturer?
Likewise, a recall does not offer the manufacturer any protection. If the manufacturer did recall a product, the recall itself cannot be used as the sole piece of evidence to establish that negligence occurred.
The manufacturer must also prove that the recall was issued before the injury and that the person injured was adequately warned of the potential hazards of using their product without the recall.
Broadly issued recalls, which are not effective at preventing injury, might not qualify for protection.
What if You are Not Injured by a Defective Product
Bottom line, if you were not actually injured by the defective product, it will be impossible to collect compensation or file an injury lawsuit. Product liability lawsuits stem from injuries and damages; therefore, you would have have a case without injuries from the defective product.
Speak with a Product Liability Attorney
If you or a loved one was injured by a defective product, explore your options with an injury attorney. The attorneys at Berkowitz and Hanna, LLC can help you with your injury case. We understand how frustrating it can be for a product you use everyday to harm you or a loved one. We hold manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and other parties responsible for allowing that dangerous product to reach the market.
Our attorneys are here to advocate for your right to compensation. Schedule a no-obligation case evaluation with the product liability team at Berkowitz and Hanna, LLC by calling 866-479-7909 or contact us online to get started.