West Chester Product Liability Attorney
The amounts of individuals who sustain injuries annually from defective products is staggering. Cases involving liability having to do with defective products can be very complicated. If you are in need of legal assistance contact our West Chester product liability lawyers for a free consultation today.
Injuries Related to Products in the US
In 2021, the NSC found 11,738,091 consumer product injuries, representing a 6.8% increase from 2020’s low. However, this was still a 12.8% drop from 2019.
There were 11.7 million people treated in emergency departments for consumer product injuries in 2021. Most of the injuries came from using everyday products assumed to be safe, including stairs or ramps, bedding or mattresses, and chairs or sofas. Additionally, the research found that the elderly and children aged 0 to 4 were at the highest risk of having an accident due to a defective product.
What Exactly Is a Defective Product?
A defective product is a product that has a flaw or problem that makes it unreasonably dangerous for you to use it as intended. There are several reasons why a product can be considered defective, including design defects, manufacturing defects, and inadequate warnings or instructions.
A design defect is a flaw in the product’s design that makes it unsafe for its intended use, even if it is manufactured correctly. For example, a braking system in a car with a design defect that makes it prone to sudden and unexpected brake failure would qualify as a defective product.
A manufacturing defect is a flaw in the product that happens during the manufacturing process, such as a missing or incorrectly installed piece, that makes the product unsafe. For example, a bicycle with a manufacturing defect in its frame that causes it to crack and break while in use would be classified as a defective product.
Inadequate warnings or instructions refer to a product without sufficient instructions or warnings about its proper use or any potential dangers associated with it. For instance, a power tool that does not have adequate instructions on operating it safely could be considered a defective product.
Common Claims Having to Do With Defective Products
Various types of dangerous product cases can arise when a defective or dangerous product causes harm to a consumer. Some common types include but are not limited to:
- Car seats
- Children’s toys
- Construction equipment
- Dangerous drugs
- Household appliances
- Machinery and equipment
- Safety equipment, such as airbags and seatbelts
- Vehicle components
No matter what product type you use, the company that earns money by selling the product has a duty to keep consumers safe. Therefore, if you sustained injuries while using a defective or dangerous product, you’d want to enlist the help of a West Chester product liability lawyer to help guide the litigation process.
Product Liability Laws in Pennsylvania
Product liability laws in Pennsylvania are designed to protect consumers from defective and dangerous products. These laws impose a duty on manufacturers, distributors, and sellers to ensure that their products are reasonably safe for their intended use. The following are brief overviews of Pennsylvania’s product liability laws:
Defect in Design
A design defect exists when a product is inherently dangerous because of how the manufacturer designed it. As the injured party, you must show that there was an alternative design that would have made the product safer. Additionally, you must show that the safer design was economically and technologically possible. Finally, you must prove that the product’s design didn’t meet consumer expectations.
Misuse of Products
A defendant in one of these claims may argue that you misused the product and that the misuse was why you sustained injuries. For example, if you used a power tool in a way that was not intended or recommended by the manufacturer, the manufacturer may argue that you misused the product.
Unanticipated, Unforeseeable, or Unintended Use of Products
The company could claim that unanticipated, unforeseeable, or unintended product use caused your injuries. However, this defense may not be valid if the manufacturer should have been able to reasonably anticipate the use that led to the injury.
Alteration of Products
The manufacturer might argue that you altered the product in a way that caused the injury. However, this defense may not be valid if the alteration was foreseeable or if they designed the product to make it easy for you to alter it.
Unavoidably Unsafe Products
Some products, such as prescription drugs and medical devices, may be unavoidably unsafe, meaning they cannot be entirely safe for their intended use. Product manufacturers can still be held liable for injuries caused by the products if they fail to warn consumers about the risks.
Duty to Warn
Manufacturers and sellers have a duty to warn consumers about dangerous or obviously unsafe conditions associated with their products. Failure to offer warnings or instructions may lead to liability in a product liability case.
State of the Art Defenses
The defendant could argue that they made the product according to the state of the art when they produced it. However, this defense may not be valid if the state of the art was inadequate or if the manufacturer failed to keep up with technological advances or industry standards.
Government Contractor Defense
The company could claim that they made the product while adhering to government specifications and that the government approved the product’s design.
Statutes of Limitation and Repose
Pennsylvania law has a statute of limitations and a statute of repose, and these laws limit the time you have to file a product liability lawsuit. The statute of limitations is generally two years from your injury date, while the statute of repose is generally 12 years from the date of the product’s first sale.
Strict Liability vs Negligence
Negligence and strict liability are two different beliefs that your West Chester product liability attorney can use to hold product sellers and manufacturers liable for any injuries their products cause. The critical difference is the level of fault required to establish liability.
Strict liability is a legal belief that the seller or manufacturer is liable for injuries caused by a defective product, whether they meant to cause harm intentionally or were simply negligent. In other words, if the court finds the product unreasonably dangerous or defective, they can hold the seller or manufacturer liable for any injuries the defect caused, regardless of whether they were at fault.
For example, if a company designs a lawnmower with a defective blade guard and you sustain injuries, you can file a strict liability claim against the manufacturer. Additionally, you can file this claim even if the manufacturer wasn’t negligent in designing or building the product.
Negligence is the legal belief that requires you to prove that the seller or manufacturer was negligent when they built, designed, or marketed the product. To establish this claim, your West Chester defective products lawyer has to prove that the seller or manufacturer didn’t exercise reasonable care to ensure the product’s safety. In addition, you have to show that the seller or manufacturer knew or should have known the product had a defect and didn’t work to correct it.
For example, If the company designed a blade guard on a lawnmower and knew it was defective and you sustained injuries, you could file a negligence claim against the company. But, again, you’d have to prove that the company knew about this defect and chose not to correct it and that this failure breached its duty to exercise reasonable care in ensuring the product’s safety.
What Type of Compensation Can I Expect From My Case?
First, you must know that these cases are very fact-specific. Your defective products attorney in West Chester, PA, will work to prove that the product was unreasonably dangerous and the company should never have released it to market in its current condition. Depending on the facts of the claim, our attorneys may try to prove the following:
- That alternative solutions exist that could have resulted in a safer product
- That it would have been challenging for the average person to recognize how dangerous the product was with the current design
- That there is a sufficient likelihood that the product would be a danger to the user
Generally, the manufacturer or seller’s negligence allowed consumers to buy the product in a dangerous condition. You could claim reimbursement for past and future expenses if you sustained injuries due to a defective product. When you file a product liability lawsuit in Chester County, it’s possible to recover compensation for the following:
- Emotional distress
- Future medical treatment
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Loss of a loved one’s support or company in wrongful death cases
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Property damage
The Process of Negotiating a Settlement
When you file a civil lawsuit, you must present strong supporting evidence showing the defendant is liable to get a favorable settlement. It’s common to have several defendants in product liability suits, and you might try to seek compensation from the entities that manufactured and designed the product, as well as the ones who distributed or marketed it. In lawsuits with more than one defendant, one defendant will be responsible for more liability than the others.
Whether there are one or more defendants, you’ll want to enlist an expert to offer their opinion regarding the product’s defective nature, things the defendant could have done to reduce the danger, and how you sustained injuries from the product. Often, a strong expert report can encourage the defendant to offer a settlement instead of going to trial. A skilled West Chester product liability lawyer can help you find and work with experts to build your lawsuit.
Assessing the Damages
Suppose you want to negotiate a settlement in your product liability case. In that case, you’ll have to present solid arguments proving the defendant is responsible for building and selling a product that caused injuries or harm. However, you must also accurately and thoroughly assess the damages.
If your injuries come from a product defect, you may have to have significant medical treatment, including hospitalizations, surgery, and rehabilitation. So, you have to gather all of this evidence showing how much past treatments cost and the price of any future treatments. Generally, you’ll want to bring in expert testimony to help define the extent of your injuries and any permanent disabilities. The expert can also outline what treatments you’ll reasonably need going forward.
Another thing to consider is that many people who sustain injuries due to defective products cannot work due to the extent of their injuries. If this is the case, you must present evidence showing the amount of money you lost in wages due to the harm the product caused. If you are permanently unable to return to work, it’s a good idea to get an economics expert to testify for your case to prove the total value of your lost wages. Then, along with economic harm, your West Chester product liability attorney can negotiate compensation for pain and suffering on your behalf.
Contact Our Pennsylvania Lawyers Today
Contact us to schedule a consultation if you need a skilled and experienced West Chester defective products lawyer. Our dedicated team has built a reputation for fighting for compensation for our clients so they can focus on healing from their injuries. We’re happy to look at your claims and help you decide if you have a claim.
Some of the locations our attorneys serve includes West Chester, Downingtown, Philadelphia, Phoenixville, Pottstown, Berwyn, Devon, Exton, Frazer, and more.