Atlanta, Georgia Product Liability / Defective Products Attorneys
Whenever you purchase or use a product manufactured or produced by someone else—whether it is an appliance, food, a power tool, a toy for your child, an automobile, or anything else—you naturally expect that it is safe to use that product for the purpose for which it is intended. Sometimes, however, a product will not be safe for its intended or foreseeable use and, when someone sustains an injury as a result, the manufacturer of that product may be held civilly liable for the damages caused by the use of the product. When this happens, the lawsuit is called a products liability or product defect case.Theories of Products Liability
A product liability case is usually a type of negligence claim, although other theories of liability may apply to the manufacture and distribution of goods held out for sale. In a typical negligence claim, a plaintiff must show that:
- The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff;
- The defendant breached that duty;
- The breach caused an injury to the plaintiff; and
- The injury resulted in damages to the plaintiff.
In the case of product defect liability, a defendant may be a parts supplier, the primary manufacturer, or even the distributor or retailer of a product, and, generally speaking, every entity in the chain of distribution owes a duty of care to the end purchaser of that product. For example, if someone purchases an automobile, there are numerous entities that owe a duty of care to the automobile buyer: the parts supplier, like the tire manufacturer; the automobile manufacturing company who assembles the car; and the auto dealership who sells the car. Each of these parties, to varying degrees, owes a duty of care to the buyer that the car will not only perform as represented, but perform its functions without unnecessary risk of harm to the user. In a standard negligence claim, liability exists where there is a defect in the product (which constitutes the breach of the duty of care), and the defendant knew or should have known of the defect and the risk of harm that might result due to the defect.
In other cases, a manufacturer or supplier can be held liable where there is no defect—that is, the product performs exactly as intended, but injury results, anyway. In these cases, a defendant can still be liable under the theory of “strict liability”: even though the product works and functions and was not manufactured in a defective way, it presents an inherently dangerous risk of harm due to its design, or it simply presents an unavoidable danger to the user. For example, a child’s “toy oven” that can cause actual burns might be considered an inherently dangerous product that the manufacturer knew or should have known should not be placed in the hands of children, regardless of the instructions and warnings included with the product. Under a theory of strict liability, the manufacturer would be held liable for any harm caused by use of the product because the manufacturer should have known that such a product should not be held out for sale to its intended market of young children.
In still other situations, product liability may exist where the sole “defect” is the failure to place a warning label on the product that would instruct and warn the user of potential harm that is not readily apparent if the product is used in a particular way. In many cases, warning labels may be required by state or federal consumer safety laws for certain products, such as hair dryers, power tools, and so on.
Plaintiffs who file a product liability case in Atlanta, Georgia may pursue liability under any or all of these theories: manufacturing defect, defective design (strict liability), or failure to warn.Damages Claims in Products Liability Cases
Like other claims in tort, plaintiffs in products liability claims in Atlanta, Georgia, can seek financial damages for property damage, reimbursement for medical bills, lost income, compensation due to permanent disability, pain and suffering and, in some cases, punitive damages. If an individual has died from a defective product, certain survivors, such as a spouse or children, may be able to recover under a wrongful death cause of action.
While tort law is intended to provide a means to remove unsafe products from the market, there are also laws and regulations that apply to unsafe products. For example, the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission will take note when a particular product seems to be involved in repeated accidents involving injury, and will then issue a notice or warning to consumers to be aware of the risk of harm from using the product. In some cases, a manufacturer will be required or will voluntarily agree to recall a product, and will then send an individualized notice to those consumers who have registered their product with the manufacturer, such as through a warranty card. Typical examples include automobiles and children’s car seats. Also, the federal Food and Drug Administration will monitor drug and food safety issues, and will issue a warning or a recall for certain foods. Typical examples might be when a particular shipment of juice is found to be contaminated, or if a prescription drug is discovered to have severe adverse side effects that were previously unknown.
When a particular unsafe product becomes the center of attention, it is not uncommon for state and federal governments to provide a statutory remedy to consumers for unsafe products. For example, in the event of a recall, manufacturers often agree to fix the problem free of charge, or to replace an unsafe product at no cost. If a products liability case is important enough or has nationwide impact, the government may create a different legislative remedy, such as providing a means for consumers to apply for and obtain a monetary remedy. For example, the government has created a compensation mechanism for individuals harmed by vaccines: while some children have adverse severe reactions to some vaccines, the government determined that it would be in the public interest to protect vaccine manufacturers from products liability so that they would continue to manufacture and distribute vaccines.When Should You Contact a Products Liability Attorney?
Whenever you or someone close to you is injured or killed in an accident using any product, even in an automobile crash in Atlanta, Georgia, products liability should be investigated as a potential theory of liability. If you think products liability may be a potential cause of your injury, contact the experienced Atlanta products liability attorneys at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C., for a free consultation.
Call us directly at 404-814-8949 or, if you prefer, you may use our confidential online case evaluation form. Remember, the consultation is completely free, and all of your information will be held in strictest confidence. Even if we offer to represent you, there is no obligation to retain our firm. If we agree to pursue a case on your behalf, you will pay no fees unless and until we recover for you. If you need an experienced Atlanta products liability attorney to take your case, contact Sammons & Carpenter, P.C., today.
Also, be sure to visit our Georgia Learning Center Page where we have assembled a number Articles and Videos specific to Product Liability/Defective Product Claims such as:
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