Most people purchase things on at least a weekly basis. When we purchase an item, we expect that it will work as intended if we use it according to the instructions. Not only do we expect products to work as intended, but we also expect them to be safe when used the correct way. Unfortunately, some products are defective. A defective product may result in severe injuries depending on the type of product it is and how severe its defects are. Some people have been injured so badly by products that their lives have been permanently altered. How can someone in such a situation seek justice?
Product Liability Claims
The state of Ohio allows citizens injured by defective products to seek compensation and justice through product liability claims. A product liability claim is a legal action that allows consumers to recover damages from companies that manufacture or supply defective products. Damages can be recovered if a product causes physical injury, damage to property, or death.
For a product liability claim to be successful, the plaintiff will have to prove that their injuries were caused by one of the following 3 factors.
Defective Design or Manufacturing
A company or manufacturer can be held liable for injuries caused by products with defects in their design or manufacturing process. Issues with any of the following elements of the products could lead to a product liability claim:
- The physical design
- The construction (the materials the product is made from)
- How well the product is assembled
- How well the product was tested prior to release
- Whether the product was advertised accurately
Effectively, this type of claim covers any issues that may have taken place during the creation of a product. A manufacturer can be held responsible for such issues if the potential risks associated with them could be considered foreseeable. Foreseeable risks must be associated with the intended or reasonably anticipated use of the product. A manufacturer should notice such risks by using the care any reasonable manufacturer creating a similar product would.
Lack of Sufficient Warning
Companies are required to provide warnings for risks associated with the use of their products. Plaintiffs can be successful in bringing a product liability claim against a company if they can prove that there was no warning about the risks of using their product. They can also be successful in seeking compensation if they are able to prove that there was a lack of sufficient instructions provided with the product to show how to use it properly. Many of these cases originate from a product with risks that aren’t immediately obvious to the consumer. A warning would have alerted the consumer and prevented an injury from occurring.
Consumers can also sue a manufacturer if their product did not match the manufacturer’s representations and warranties. A plaintiff must have been injured by using the product in accordance with the manufacturer’s representation of the product in order for their claim to be successful. They may also have a successful claim if they are able to prove that the manufacturer did not fulfill the warranty they provided alongside the product.
Establishing Liability in a Product Liability Case
People are injured daily while using consumer products. However, not every injury will qualify for a successful product liability claim. Proving the following 4 elements will help a claimant be successful in court:
- They suffered damages such as injury, lost property, or death: The plaintiff will have to prove that they endured injuries. This can be done through police reports, witness testimonies, and medical records.
- The product in question was defective: A plaintiff will need to prove that the product that caused their injury was defective. Any product that meets one of the criteria listed above can be considered defective in court.
- The defect caused the injury: Anyone making a product liability claim must prove that the injury they’re seeking compensation for was directly caused by the product they claim is defective and that the defect is what caused the injury.
- The product was used as intended: Someone injured while misusing a product or using it in an unreasonable way cannot claim that their injuries were caused by a defect in the product.
Laws in the state of Ohio do not allow consumers to collect compensation for product liability claims if they share more than 50% of the fault for their injuries. Anyone who shares less than half of the fault for their injuries will see their compensation reduced relative to their percentage of responsibility. For example, someone who shares 20% of the fault for their injury and is rewarded $200,000 will only receive $160,000.
Types of Damages in Product Liability Claims
A consumer who has a successful product liability claim will receive compensation for their losses. This compensation can come in 2 forms: compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are designed to help the plaintiff get to the position they would be in had the accident not taken place. For some people, the impact of their injuries is too severe to be undone. The courts will use their best judgment to come to a settlement amount that reflects that. Compensatory damages are broken down into 2 types:
- Economic damages: Economic damages are intended to reimburse the injured party for quantifiable financial losses they endured due to the defective product. This includes items such as medical bills, ambulance costs, lost wages, prescription costs, lost property, and more. A person with severe injuries may receive compensation to renovate their home to accommodate their injury if needed.
- Noneconomic damages: Noneconomic damages are losses incurred by the incident that does not have an assigned monetary value and are more difficult to quantify. It can be difficult to estimate how much money a person will be awarded in this field, but an expert product liability attorney can help a client create a request. Previous settlements are often used as precedent in such cases. Noneconomic damages include items such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, decreased quality of life, and more.
We Can Help
If you’ve been injured by a defective product and need legal counsel, contact Rourke & Blumenthal today. As a personal injury law firm with over 150 years of combined experience, we will fight tirelessly on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve. We understand that this is a difficult time in your life. We will review every detail of your case with empathy to provide you with the best possible legal representation. Contact us at (614) 321-3212 or online to schedule a consultation.