Imagine being thrilled to try out your newly purchased kitchen gadget, only for it to malfunction and cause an injury. Or think about the anxiety of discovering that your child’s favorite toy has been recalled due to a choking hazard. These scenarios are more common than one might think. Every year millions of people in the United States are injured by hazardous products and materials they’ve purchased.
In an ideal world, every product we buy would work as expected and not pose any harm. But reality paints a different picture. When we become victims of defective products, it’s important to know that we have rights and options.
In this blog, our team of experienced Atlanta product liability attorneys will guide you through the key elements of product liability. Our goal is to help you understand your rights and possible recourse if you’ve ever been injured by a faulty product.
What Is Product Liability?
Let’s talk about product liability. Basically, it’s a law that says manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, and retailers can be held responsible if their products end up causing damage or injury. It’s like saying, “You made it, you sold it, it caused harm, you answer for it.”
Georgia product liability laws hold these parties accountable when a product fails to meet reasonable safety standards, causing harm to consumers.
Product liability laws aim to protect consumers and promote product safety. Under these laws, a product is considered defective if it fails to provide the level of safety that the public is entitled to expect.
Legal Framework for Product Liability
Product liability cases often fall under one of three legal concepts: negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty. Here’s a quick rundown on what those mean:
Negligence occurs when a manufacturer fails to meet established safety standards or fails to give adequate warning about potential risks involved in using the product.
Strict liability holds manufacturers, distributors, and sellers responsible for selling products that are unreasonably dangerous, even in the absence of negligence or intent to harm.
Breach of Warranty
A warranty is a guarantee made by the manufacturer that the product is safe for use. If this guarantee is not met, the manufacturer can be held liable for damages caused by the defective product.
Types of Product Liability
There are primarily three types of product liability: design defects, manufacturing defects, and marketing defects.
These occur when the design of a product is inherently unsafe, even when it is manufactured correctly and used as intended. An example could be a line of cars that have a design flaw making them prone to rollovers.
These are flaws that occur during the manufacturing or assembly process of a product. They are not intentional parts of a product’s design but are rather mistakes or errors that happen during its creation.
An example could be a swing set with a chain that wasn’t properly secured during assembly, causing it to break under use.
Marketing Defects or Failure to Warn
Marketing defects, also known as “failure to warn” defects, involve the way a product is marketed to consumers, such as the instructions for use, safety warnings, or labeling.
An example could be a medication that doesn’t include a warning about dangerous side effects when combined with another commonly used drug.
Top Consumer Product-Related Injuries
According to statistics from the National Safety Council, America’s leading nonprofit safety advocate, the top consumer product-related injuries occurred due to the following defective products:
- Stairs, ramps, landings, floors
- Beds, pillows, mattresses
- Chairs, sofas, sofa beds
Other common products such as televisions, household cleaning products, cooking ranges, and ovens also contributed to product-related injuries. These injuries resulted in 11.7 million people being treated in emergency departments.
How to Document Injuries from Defective Products
After an injury, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention. Document everything related to your injury, including the circumstances leading to the injury, medical treatments, and any related expenses. Preserve the product and its packaging, and keep any receipts or proof of purchase.
Understanding the Process of a Product Liability Claim
A product liability claim in Georgia involves several steps. Initially, you’ll need to gather evidence to prove that the product in question was indeed defective and directly caused your injuries. This could include:
- Defective product itself
- Medical reports
- Witness statements
- Any correspondence with the manufacturer or seller
Next, hiring a product liability attorney will help you navigate the complex legal process. Your attorney will then file the lawsuit on your behalf. Once the lawsuit is filed, both parties engage in the discovery phase, where all relevant evidence and information are exchanged.
Negotiations may occur at any stage, and if a settlement can’t be reached, the case will proceed to trial. A judge or jury will then make a final decision on the case.
Tips for Protecting Yourself from Defective Products
While it’s impossible to completely eliminate the risk of encountering a defective product, there are some precautions you can take to protect yourself:
- Research Before Purchase: Before buying a product, do some research. Look at product reviews and ratings, and research the company that makes the product. This can give you an idea of the product’s quality and safety.
- Read and Follow Instructions: Always read the user manual and safety warnings before using a product. This can help you understand how to safely use the product and avoid potential hazards.
- Register Your Product: Many manufacturers offer product registration. This typically involves providing your contact information and the product’s model number. Registering your product can make it easier for the company to contact you if there’s a recall.
- Stay Informed About Recalls: Regularly check for recalls on the products you own. You can find recall information on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website. If a product you own is recalled, follow the instructions provided for what to do next.
- Use Products as Intended: Always use products for their intended purpose and in the intended manner. Misusing a product can lead to unexpected hazards.
- Maintain and Check Products Regularly: Regular maintenance can help keep products in good working order and safe to use. Some products, such as vehicles or appliances, may require professional maintenance.
Remember, if you believe a product is unsafe, stop using it immediately and contact the manufacturer. If you have been injured by a product, it’s also crucial to consult with a product liability attorney as soon as possible to understand your rights and legal options.
Your Rights as a Consumer
As a consumer in Georgia and across the United States, you have specific rights designed to protect you from unsafe and defective products. Understanding these rights can help you take action if you’re injured by a product.
- Right to Safe Products: You have the right to expect that the products you buy are safe for use as intended. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers have a duty to ensure the products they design, make, and sell do not pose an undue risk of harm when used properly.
- Right to Be Informed: You have the right to clear and accurate information about a product before you decide to purchase it. This includes truthful advertising and proper labeling, as well as appropriate safety warnings and instructions for use.
- Right to Choose: You have the right to a variety of products and services at competitive prices. This means that you should have access to a range of options to select from based on your preferences and needs.
- Right to Compensation: If you are injured by a defective product, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. This can include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and in some cases, punitive damages.
- Right to Voice: You have the right to voice your concerns and complaints about a product. You can also expect these complaints to be heard and addressed.
Under Georgia law, you generally have two years from the date of the injury to file a product liability claim, so time is of the essence.
Compensation in Product Liability Cases
If you have been injured by a defective product, you may be entitled to different types of compensation. This can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and, in some cases, punitive damages.
A product liability attorney can help you determine the amount of compensation you are entitled to and help you build a strong case to secure the compensation you deserve.
Product liability can be a complicated and challenging legal issue. However, with the help of experienced Atlanta product liability attorneys, you can seek the compensation you are entitled to. By understanding the various aspects of product liability, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from the harmful effects of defective products.
Need Help? Contact Greathouse Trial Law If You’ve Been Harmed by a Defective Product
If you’ve been harmed by a defective product and your concerns have been ignored by the manufacturer, don’t fight this battle alone. Time is of the essence when it comes to filing a claim.
Our experienced legal team at Greathouse Trial Law understands the complexities of handling cases involving defective products. We’re here to guide you through the process, ensuring you receive fair compensation for any injuries you sustained.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.