Experienced Product Liability Lawyers Advocating for Consumer Rights
At Moll Law Group, our product liability attorneys have decades of experience pursuing significant cases involving questions of consumer safety. We represent injured consumers nationwide in high-impact litigation. In addition, we try to provide people in our community with resources to protect themselves against defective items and misconduct by manufacturers. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions that may help you more fully understand your situation.
What Counts as a Product Defect?
There are three categories of product defects: marketing defects, manufacturing defects, and design defects. In most cases, it is necessary to retain an expert to establish that one or more defects exist. Theoretically, a single product could have all of these defects. For example, a drug manufacturer may fail to provide an adequate warning that there is a serious side effect of developing cancer while using the pharmaceutical supporting a marketing defect claim. Additionally, a particular bottle of the drug might have been contaminated with a toxin during the manufacturing process. This would be a manufacturing defect. If the drug were designed such that it caused internal bleeding when it could have been designed for a similar cost and no diminished utility to achieve the same result, it may have a design defect.
What Do I Need to Prove to Recover Damages?
What you will have to prove depends on which theory or combination of theories is used for your product liability lawsuit. Theories that may be used when suing a manufacturer for a defective product include strict liability, negligence, fraud, misrepresentation, and breach of warranty. Using a strict liability theory, for example, we need to prove only that the product had a dangerous defect when it left the manufacturer and that the defect caused your injuries. However, some states do not permit plaintiffs to proceed on a theory of strict liability but instead require proof of manufacturer negligence. In that situation, we need to prove the manufacturer's duty of care to you, a breach of that duty, actual and proximate (legal) causation, and actual damages.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover?
If you are bringing a lawsuit based on your own injuries, you may recover both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include tangible costs and losses, such as medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost income, vocational rehabilitation, and household services. Noneconomic damages are damages that can vary substantially depending on the viewpoint of the jury and the persuasiveness of your attorney. They may include mental anguish, loss of enjoyment, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium. In certain cases, such as those in which a manufacturer has concealed serious side effects or design defects, punitive damages may be recovered in addition to compensatory damages.
If you are suing a manufacturer after the loss of a loved one in a fatal accident, a different set of damages may be available. Each state has its own rules about which types of damages may be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit and which family members may recover them. In Illinois, for example, the personal representative of the decedent's estate brings the case with the goal of recovering damages for the decedent's next of kin.
How Might a Manufacturer Defend a Case?
Manufacturers use many different tactics to avoid liability. Some defenses are simply procedural. For example, each state has its own statute of limitations for bringing personal injury or product liability claims, and if you miss the window of opportunity within which to file your case, you may be barred from pursuing compensation.
Manufacturers sometimes argue that a consumer assumed the risk of harm or that a particular danger was obvious. For example, if someone used the product in a way that the instruction specifically warned against, assumption of the risk could defeat a case based on negligence or breach of warranty. Similarly, if someone buys a knife and gets cut because his or her hand slips, the manufacturer would likely argue that the danger of being cut was obvious, and no warning was required.
A manufacturer also may argue that another factor, rather than the defective product, was the true cause of the victim’s injuries. For example, if an SUV rolls over, the car manufacturer may argue that reckless driving actually resulted in the accident.
Can My Own Carelessness Affect My Lawsuit?
Rules of comparative negligence may affect your ability to recover compensation. This means that if the jury finds a victim was negligent and partially at fault for his or her own injuries, the compensation award will be reduced by a proportionate amount. (In a very small group of states that use a contributory negligence system, someone who was careless at all is barred from recovering damages.) This issue may come up if the defendant argues that you misused the product in a way that was not reasonably foreseeable to the manufacturer, and you are proceeding on a theory of negligence.
In some states, manufacturers are able to use a form of comparative negligence as a defense in strict product liability lawsuits. Although it is known as comparative negligence, this defense is actually an assumption of the risk defense in which the injured person was individually aware of the danger but deliberately and subjectively made a decision to encounter it anyway.
What Can I Do If I Cannot Afford a Lawyer?
Your financial situation should have no impact on your ability to obtain legal representation for your product liability or other personal injury case. At Moll Law Group, we represent accident victims and their families on a contingency fee basis. This means that you do not owe us anything unless we are able to recover compensation for you either through a settlement or at trial. Our fees and costs are paid out of a percentage of the compensation award.
Discuss Your Case with a Product Liability Attorney
The product liability lawyers at Moll Law Group are dedicated to improving consumer safety throughout the U.S. We represent victims of defective products nationwide, including in California, Illinois, New York, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas. Billions of dollars have been recovered in cases in which our injury attorneys were involved. Call us at 312-462-1700 or use our online form to set up a free consultation.