Defective products do not only include medical devices or drugs. Any consumer product may contain a defect that leads to injuries or deaths. Some of the most common products involved in liability lawsuits in the U.S. are auto parts, children’s toys, household appliances, cosmetics and foods. In our years of experience handling product liability claims, we have seen a range of personal injuries arising from defective and dangerous goods.
When manufacturers release defective products, they endanger the lives of thousands of unsuspecting consumers. Some consumers, such as the victims of defective seatbelts and airbags in auto accidents, suffer permanent injuries because of the lapse in judgment of a manufacturing company. No matter what types of product-related injuries you or a loved one suffered, speak with one of our attorneys about your case. A lawyer may be able to use the state’s product liability laws in your favor.
In the pursuit of financial compensation after an incident involving a defective product, a victim or his or her attorney will have to navigate the state’s applicable laws. These laws include deadlines for filing, rules for who may file, and requirements for bringing a lawsuit. Hiring a lawyer will remove the burden of legal processes from your shoulders. You can relax and focus on recovering from your injuries while your attorney deals with the red tape of a case. One of the most important laws to know as a claimant, however, is the state’s statute of limitations.
A statute of limitations is a deadline for filing a lawsuit. It is a strict time limit by which all claimants must bring their lawsuits, or else they will forever be barred from doing so. Although the courts may permit some exceptions to the rule, these are rare, and generally only apply to situations involving delayed discovery of damages. For example, if exposure to asbestos in a product did not cause mesothelioma to develop until 20 years later, the victim would still have the right to file a lawsuit after discovery, despite having missed the deadline. Make sure you know the applicable statute of limitations before you miss an opportunity.
The statute of limitations on most product liability claims in New York State is three years after the date the injury occurred, or the date of injury discovery (if different). Claimants have just 36 months to gather evidence, document their injuries, and file lawsuits against defendants before the courts will refuse to hear the case. It is very important to speak to an attorney right away after a defective product injures you. Do not risk losing your right to compensation because you missed the statute of limitations to file a claim.
Most personal injury claims center on the legal concept of negligence. Product liability lawsuits are unique, however, in that claimants may file them on one of three grounds: negligence, strict product liability or breach of warranty. A negligence product liability case aims to prove that the defendant was careless in some way that compromised the safety of the product, and that the act or omission caused the victim’s injuries. These claims are very similar to other personal injury lawsuits.
A claim based on strict product liability eliminates the need for the victim to prove the manufacturer’s negligence. Instead, the victim can receive compensation for liability without proof of fault. In other words, liability without needing to demonstrate that the defendant knew or reasonably should have known about the defect. All the claimant would need to show is that the product contained a defect, and that the product defect caused his or her injuries and damages.
A claim based on breach of warranty states that the manufacturer guaranteed something in a contract (either expressly or implicitly) that it later contradicted. For example, if a children’s toy manufacturer gives the implied warranty that a product is safe for children three and up, yet it presents a choking hazard for this age group, the manufacturer may be guilty of a breach of warranty. Working with a lawyer can help you determine the grounds on which to base your claim.
In general, when pursuing compensation on the basis of negligence or strict product liability, the courts will ask that the product contain at least one of three types of defects. The presence of one of these defect types can help move a plaintiff’s case along. The first type is a design flaw or error. A safety mistake during the design phase of a product can lead to an item that is unfit for use, even when manufactured correctly. A children’s toy with a pull string that is long enough to present a strangulation hazard is one example.
The second type of defect is a manufacturing mistake. An issue during the manufacturing or assembly processes could cause a hazardous defect the item otherwise would not have contained. For example, if the child’s toy from the above example had the correct string length in the design plans, but an error with the equipment led to one batch of toys with an excessively long string, they would have a manufacturing error.
The third type of product defect is a marketing one. It is a manufacturer’s responsibility to properly label, sell, and advertise its products according to accepted safety standards. This may require the manufacturer to include directions or warning labels to reasonably prevent consumer injuries. If the child’s toy had proper pull string length but failed to include an age range warning on the packaging, this would be one example of a marketing defect.
Once a claimant files a product liability lawsuit in New York within the appropriate limitations period, the case can begin. The civil justice system imposes the burden of proof on the claimant in personal injury claims. This means it is up to the injured party to prove negligence or fault (in a negligence-based case), rather than the defendant needing to prove his or her innocence. A plaintiff needs four main elements for a successful negligence-based product claim.
A lawyer can significantly help with meeting the applicable burden of proof and taking the necessary steps to build a strong case in New York. Keep in mind these elements of proof are only necessary if strict product liability laws do not apply. Many defective product cases do not require injured consumers to prove a manufacturer’s negligence or breach of duty. Speak with an attorney about your case today.