How to Sue a Company for a Defective Product
Milwaukee Personal Injury Attorneys on Defective Product Liability Cases
If you’ve been injured by a product and believe it is because the product was defective in some manner, you can hire an attorney to file what is known as a defective product liability claim. Such claims seek to recover the medical costs you’ve incurred, as well as certain other compensatory damages.
In the case of a minor injury, however, it may be worth contacting the company on your own to explain the situation and ask for reimbursement for your medical expenses. For instance, a Wisconsin woman had a bottle of Australian ginger soda explode when she went to take a bottle out of the case. A broken piece of glass cut one of her fingers enough to require a few stitches.
After being treated in the emergency room, she contacted the manufacturer through their Facebook page and explained what happened. To her surprise, they quickly offered to pay for all medical expenses, asking only that she provide them receipts for the purchase of their product and for the medical care she received. A solution like this often achieves the same results as an attorney would, only in much less time.
Of course, not all manufacturers are so reasonable or so willing to work with the injured party. In those cases, you clearly need an experienced attorney representing you. This is particularly true for incidents where serious injury occurred. An attorney can handle all the paperwork involved in filing a defective product liability lawsuit with the court and in serving the manufacturer of the product with legal notice of the suit.
Keep in mind, it is not just the manufacturer who can be held liable for an injury. All parties involved in making and distributing the product can potentially be liable: manufacturer, retailers, wholesalers and/or distributors. Often, a defective product liability case will have more than one defendant. The more you can include, the greater the amount of money you stand to win.
INJURED? It IS About The Money.®
The Three Types of Product Liability Claims
Claims seeking to recover costs incurred due to a product defect typically fall into three categories of product liability:
1. Defectively Manufactured Products
A product is defectively manufactured if it is flawed due to some error in manufacturing which caused it to fail or perform adversely. To be able to sue, your injury must have been caused by the defective manufacturing.
2. Defectively Designed Products
Products with an inherently dangerous or defective design are considered to be defectively designed. A bicycle fork made with an alloy prone to cracking and failing catastrophically is an example of a defectively designed product.
3. Failure to Provide Adequate Warning or Instruction
Claims alleging a failure to provide adequate warning or instruction usually involve products that are in some way dangerous, but not in an obvious way. They can also involve products that require special precautions. For instance, a cold medicine that fails to warn of dangerous side effects if used in combination with aspirin, or some other commonly used drug.
In order to recover, you have to show that not only was the product defective, but that the defect caused your injury. In any defective product liability lawsuit, the following four things need to be proven:
- You were injured or sustained some kind of damage
- The product was either defective or lacked adequate instructions or warnings which might have prevented your injury
- The defect (or lack of warning/instruction) is what caused of your injury
- You were using the product as it was intended to be used (i.e. You can’t sue for an injury sustained by attempting to drive a car on a lake)
Understanding Compensatory Damages in Defective Product Liability Lawsuits
Compensatory damages are awards of money to compensate for losses the injured party has suffered as a result of the injury. There are basically two categories of compensatory damages – those which compensate for economic losses and those which compensate for non-economic losses.
Economic losses include medical expenses and the cost of any changes in your lifestyle the injury has necessitated (such as having to hire someone to help around the house, or re-configuring your home to make it wheelchair accessible). Economic losses also include the cost of any repair to or replacement of personal property damaged or destroyed by the defective product and any lost wages from being unable to go to work due to your injury.
Also known as “general damages,” non-economic losses are intended to compensate for things such as pain and suffering and loss of consortium with a spouse. It is virtually impossible to put a dollar figure on these things, so attorneys typically look to the amounts awarded in similar cases to come up with an appropriate amount.
In most cases, compensatory damages are the only form of damages awarded in a product liability case. The exception is if the defendant has been so reckless in their disregard for the safety of their products, the court can impose punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant and are calculated by considering the nature of the defendant’s malfeasance in relation to their wealth.
Do You Have A Case For A Defective Product Liability Lawsuit?
If you have been injured by a defective product or even the improper installation of a product, Warshafsky Law offers a free, no obligation legal consultation to help determine if you have grounds for a suit. You’ll meet with an experienced Milwaukee product liability lawyer who can answer any questions you may have regarding the legal process. At the end of the meeting, you will have a good idea of the strength of your case and of how it will be handled should you decide to have Warshafsky Law represent you.