Frequently Asked Questions About Product Liability

Answered by Atlantic City Product Liability Lawyers

What is product liability?

Product liability refers to the responsibility of a manufacturer, seller, or supplier of a product for injuries caused by a defect in the design or manufacture of that product. Product liability law aims to protect consumers when products containing defects cause damage. Under this law, the manufacturers of defective items are liable for harm consumers suffer during their ordinary usage of the product.
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What is a defective product?

A defective product is one that causes damage or injury to a consumer by way of a reasonably preventable flaw in the item, its labeling or marketing, and/or its intended use.
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If I suffer injury or lose a loved one as a result of a defective product, who is responsible?

When a defective product causes injury or death, there can be several responsible parties. In most cases, the manufacturer of the product will be liable. However, sometimes the product defect is not the manufacturer’s fault. The designers of defective products can be liable, as can anyone responsible for maintaining the product. In some cases, the distributor of the product can be responsible as well.
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How do you prove a product is defective?

There are three elements to product liability cases.

  1. The product must be defective or unreasonably dangerous for its intended use.
  2. The defect must exist when the product leaves manufacturer control.
  3. The defect must be the proximate cause of personal injury or wrongful death.

“Proximate cause” is a legal term meaning an event sufficiently related to an injury to be held as the cause of the injury. If a case meets the above criteria, then a defective product lawsuit can move forward.

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What damages are available for victims of defective products?

Victims of defective products can recover for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, lost wages and diminished earning capacity. For those who have lost a loved one, damages available may include loss of support, services, lost prospect of inheritance and medical and funeral expenses.
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What is “strict liability”?

Strict liability means that a product developer can still be liable for injuries even if there is no proof of negligence or intent. Due to strict liability, more victims of defective products can bring lawsuits against companies that cause harm.
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Am I able to sue a drug company for harmful drug side effects?

Defective drugs fall under products liability laws. Drug manufacturers have a duty to warn those who take the drugs of side effects that are understood to occur. However, some side effects of drugs are unknown, so they cannot be warned against. Nevertheless, drug companies can still be liable for injuries or deaths caused by unknown side effects.
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Can I sue after a recall?

Recalls can affect defective product injury cases. If a product is recalled while lawsuits are already active, then that recall can be used as evidence to help establish that a product is defective. It does not automatically establish liability on the part of the manufacturer, but it helps.

On the other hand, a product recall does not automatically let the manufacturer off the hook for claims brought against it after a recall’s initiation. To absolve itself from liability, the manufacturer must prove that the particular plaintiffs in defective product lawsuits received notice of the recall and that the notice contained adequate warning of the product’s dangers.
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How long do I have to file a defective product liability claim?

Every state has a “statute of limitations” for bringing products liability lawsuits. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of injury.
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How do I know if a product I own is defective?

The best way to tell if a product is defective is to observe it during use. If the product does not perform the way that the manufacturer represents it, then it is possible that the product is defective. Unfortunately, many product defects are invisible and only become apparent after the product causes injury. One tool you can use to detect dangerous products before they hurt someone is through the website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and look at the list of recalled products.

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What should I do if a defective product injures me?

If a defective product causes you harm, then immediately stop use of the product and take steps to preserve it, if possible. Ideally, you will preserve the product in the exact state it was in when injury occurred. Take photographs of the scene of the injury as well as the injury itself. Contact an attorney immediately to begin investigation of the product. Preservation of evidence is key to your case, and time is of the essence.
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