The lifetime of a product begins at the first glimmer of an idea and advances through the various stages of manufacturing – including design, manufacture of components, wholesaler and retailer, installer, and finally user. As a consumer buying a product, you trust the manufacturer and believe that a product will simply fulfill its purpose and not harm you.
California has the most manufacturers in the U.S., producing everything from self-driving cars to tortilla chips, but what happens when your newly acquired product becomes a source of pain to you? Accidents caused by defective products can cause catastrophic injuries. The job of the lawyers from Gibson & Hughes Law is to investigate and establish product defect liability in regards to your injuries.
What Is a Product Liability Case in California?
A product liability suit surrounds a person’s injuries caused by the product’s defective design or manufacture. The product could be an electronic device, drug, food product, medical device, or anything else.
Thousands of people in the United States suffer from the use of defective and dangerous products every year. Luckily, there are laws that address such situations and could hold liable virtually everyone in the lifeline of a product.
Who Is Liable for My Injuries Caused by a Defective Product?
California follows strict consumer protection laws that aim to protect the public against injuries caused by defective products. Under California law, the manufacturer, and everyone on a product’s marketing chain can be strictly liable and accountable for defective products – even if they were not negligent.
California Courts have maintained that those who reap profits through a defective product placed on the market ought to carry the costs of injuries the product caused. Therefore, persons like distributors and store owners can also be liable for injuries.
What Are the Basis for Liability in California?
California imposes strict liability on these three categories:
The courts in California will use the risk/benefit test to determine liability. A design flaw is a consequence of several mistakes in the design process and would feature in all products.
Sometimes a manufacturer will use the utmost care at all manufacturing stages but still make a product with an error. Your defective product liability attorney will, in this case, file a strict liability for a manufacturing defect.
Warning Defects or Inadequate Instructions
A company’s role is to protect the consumer with adequate warning labels and instructions. A carefully and safely designed product that was manufactured properly can still pose a danger to a customer. Besides, sometimes the proper use of a product may not be obvious to a user.
For instance, a manufacturer must warn you of any known dangers associated with the use of a product.
What Parties Cannot Be Held Liable for Defective Products
Apart from what the Californian law says about liable parties, there is also a list of parties that are not subject to strict liability. These parties will not be liable for your injuries caused by a defective or dangerous product:
- Manufacturers of Non-Defective Components
Even with a legitimate product liability case against the main manufacturer, you cannot sue the manufacturers of non-defective parts. If the component manufacturer was not negligent in creating and supplying the main manufacturer with a non-defective part, this component manufacturer wouldn’t be liable for the finished product’s defectiveness.
- Financial Institutions
The financial institution responsible for handling the transaction between you and a seller or manufacturer cannot be held liable as they have no obligation of ensuring your safety.
- Sellers of Professional Services
Professional services like pharmacies and beauty salons cannot be held liable for a defective drug or beauty product that harmed you. A pharmacy only provides you with a service. Although difficult, however, a product liability attorney in Orange County may establish liability on a beauty salon that used a defective product.
What Products Are Covered in California’s Strict Liability Law?
Strict liability law covers virtually any product in California. This includes drones, planes, cars, household machines, industrial and business machinery, clothing, chairs, toys, perfume, furnishings, etc.
What Products Aren’t Covered?
The only exception to the general rule of covering all products would be particular “inherently unsafe, common consumer” prescription drugs, medical devices, and products.
Inherently unsafe products are ones “known” to be unsafe by ordinary consumers, e.g., alcohol.
Similarly, firearms and ammunition manufacturers are often protected against product liability cases. The potential of a firearm to cause injury or death when discharged doesn’t prove a design defect. However, a plaintiff may prove liability by establishing an actual manufacturing defect.
How Does a Product Liability Lawsuit Work?
Typically, people who file for a product liability case first attempt to negotiate with the manufacturer or the manufacturer’s insurance company. At this stage, the victim’s lawyer will try to reach a settlement for that particular defective product liability claim.
If the responsible party fails to make a reasonable proposition, the attorney will usually recommend escalating the matter and file a formal claim in court. The judge will then decide what amount the victim is entitled to in terms of damages.
Limits for Damages
Sometimes you may not receive the full amount in California to compensate for your injuries. California is a pure comparative fault state, which means you will only recover the amount commensurate with the percentage of the damages you are not at fault for.
Similarly, California uses the economic loss rule, so the courts will not order compensation for purely economic losses like lost profits.
Legal Aid with Your Product Liability Case in Orange County, CA
Faulty products continue to cause harm to many people in the U.S. With strict consumer laws in California, it is imperative to bring forward such cases as soon as possible.
If you are still wondering if a company, pharmacy, store owner, etc., is responsible for your injuries due to a defective product, seek immediate legal advice. Remember that time limits could also hinder you from receiving fair compensation.
Have you or your loved one been injured due to a defective or dangerous product? Contact a skilled product liability lawyer in Orange County, CA. The experienced product liability attorneys at Gibson & Hughes Law will help you try to get any entitled financial compensation from manufacturers and other liable parties. Call us today at (714) 547-8377 for a case evaluation.