When you purchase or use a product, your expectation is safe to use for its intended purpose. If there are any dangers associated with the product, they should be clearly stated so that you can make informed decisions and take necessary steps to mitigate any risks. This is a basic right, and product manufacturers have obligations toward you as a consumer.
A defective product can put victims at significant risk of serious injury. At Abraham Watkins, we believe that everyone deserves the best possible representation, regardless of their financial situation. That is why we offer a free consultation and work on a no-win no fee basis. That means that we only get paid if we secure your compensation; if your case does not succeed, then we will not be paid anything.
Abraham Watkins is one of the longest-serving law firms in the state of Texas, having represented personal injury victims for over seven decades. We are uniquely equipped to handle even the most complex product liability cases, including those involving children’s toys, asbestos, medical equipment, automobile parts, home improvement tools, and more.
Speak to one of our product liability attorneys today at 713-535-9319.
What is a Dangerous or Defective Product?
In your free consultation, your product liability lawyer will assess your case to determine if a dangerous or defective product caused your injuries. In this case, you may be able to claim compensation for a product liability claim.
A dangerous or defective product is a product that has any characteristic that inhibits its usability for its intended purpose. The court utilizes two standards to assess whether a product is defective:
- The Consumer Expectation Standard – This standard considers the nature of the product and its intended use. Under this standard, a defective product has an unknowable and unacceptable danger to the consumer.
- The Risk Utility Standard – This standard considers if the harm outweighs the benefits, which would make it defective. To determine whether the harm outweighs the benefits, the court will review any foreseeable harm if there are better substitutes available for the product, the instructions and warnings provided, and the consumer’s expectations based on the marketing of the product.
There are three key ways that a product can be dangerous or defective: design defect, manufacturing defect, or inadequate warnings.
Sometimes the design of a product is inherently defective and dangerous. As a result, your product liability lawyer from Abraham Watkins will not only be working to secure the compensation you deserve but also to recall all dangerous products to prevent future harm to consumers.
When a product manufacturer fails to protect their consumers by releasing a product with a design defect, they could be liable for all resulting injuries. Unlike other types of personal injury claims, the victim does not need to prove negligence in order to secure compensation.
Under strict liability, victims of a product with a design defect may be able to claim against a manufacturer, regardless of whether they were negligent or intended harm.
Examples of design defects include the following:
- A poorly designed piece of medical equipment that poses an unnecessary risk to consumers, such as the Bard PowerPort, which has recently resulted in a number of lawsuits;
- Unnecessarily flammable clothing;
- A children’s toy that contains a choking hazard;
- Structurally unstable products such as a table or chest of draws can topple over;
- A poorly designed safety guard on a power tool fails to prevent injuries;
- An electrical appliance that melts when placed onto a high setting;
- Mechanical defects in automobiles, such as cars that flip over during sharp turns; and
- An electric appliance that causes electrical shock.
While some manufacturers may try to remedy design defects with warning labels, they can still cause injury. In order to have a successful product liability claim based on a design defect, your attorney will need to prove that your injuries were a direct result of the design defect. For example, if you were injured by a power tool, it must be shown that the design defect caused your injury and not an improper use of the product.
A manufacturing defect is when the design of the product is sound, but an error occurs during the manufacturing process. Examples include:
- Car parts that are put together incorrectly;
- The wrong materials are used for medical devices;
- Incorrect bolts or fasteners;
- Harmful chemicals are used during the manufacturing process of skincare products; and
- Improperly installed electrical circuits.
When product liability lawsuits involve a manufacturing defect, the error will not be present in every product, only in specific batches. The error could have been the result of an individual’s negligence or a machine error. Your defective products lawyer will investigate your case to determine exactly what caused the defect and who is liable for your injuries.
If a product does have any risks associated with it, then these should be clearly labeled. All products should have adequate instructions and information, as a consumer cannot be expected to use a product safely if they are not properly informed about how to use it and what the potential risks are.
Marketing defects can involve improper advertising, failure to warn of potential risks, and inadequate instructions. Examples include:
- Failure to warn consumers of all possible side effects of medication;
- Incorrect user instructions on power tools;
- False claims about weight loss products; and
- Advertisements encouraging improper use of children’s toys.
Product liability claims based on a marketing defect are usually founded on negligence. Product manufacturers have a duty of care to their consumers and must ensure that their products are marketed in the right way. Your product liability attorney can help you to establish negligence to ensure that you have a strong claim for compensation.
Who Can be Held Liable in a Product Liability Claim?
Your product liability attorney will gather evidence and determine who is liable for your injuries. Often, the product manufacturer is liable for injuries caused by their products. Under product liability laws, manufacturers must ensure that their products are safe, that risks are made clear, and that their products meet consumer expectations. If they fail and a consumer or bystander is injured as a result, then they could owe the injured party compensation.
Other potentially liable parties include anyone involved in the design, manufacturing, assembling, marketing, and distribution of goods.
Product liability can be based on strict liability, negligence, or breach of warranty. Your attorney will need to clearly establish why a party is liable in order for you to successfully claim compensation.
- Strict Liability – Product manufacturers can be held liable under strict liability, which relieves the victim of the need to prove negligence or fault. Regardless of a manufacturer’s efforts to make a product safe, if the product’s risks outweigh the benefits, then the victim could have a valid claim for compensation. Strict liability places focus on the product itself and not the actions of any individual or company.
- Negligence – Negligence is an action or inaction that is different from how a reasonable person would have behaved in similar circumstances. For example, if a manufacturer knew, or should have known, about the potential risks of a product and failed to warn consumers properly, then they could be held liable under negligence.
- Breach of Warranty – A product manufacturer or a seller of a product could be held liable under breach of warranty if they express or imply that their product can be used in a certain way. For example, if a hardware store claims that a drill can be used to cut through metal, and it cannot, then this could be considered a breach of warranty. If the consumer is injured as a result, then the hardware store could be liable for their injuries.
What Should I Do After an Injury from a Defective Product?
If you have suffered an injury because of a defective product, then you may be feeling angry and let down. It can be difficult to know what to do, especially when you are dealing with mounting medical bills.
Taking the right steps after your injury could help to protect both your health and well-being and your claim to compensation.
Seek a Medical Examination
After any injury, your first priority should be your health. If you or anyone else involved in the incident require immediate medical care, then you should call an ambulance. Alternatively, if the incident is not serious enough to warrant an ambulance, you should still seek a medical examination as soon as possible.
A medical examination will ensure that you get the help and advice you need and do not unknowingly make your injuries worse. Your medical record will also be an essential piece of evidence in your claim.
Gather and Protect Evidence
Having evidence to support your product liability claim will help you to secure a just and fair compensation. Perhaps the most important piece of evidence is the product itself. Therefore, it is essential that you keep the product in the same condition as when it caused your injury. If you still have the packaging, documents that came with it, or a receipt, then these could also help your claim, and you should keep them safe.
If the product caused visible damage either to property, or visible injuries, then you should take photographs of anything you believe could be relevant.
If anyone else witnessed the accident, and your injuries allow, then you should take down their name and contact information so that your attorney can seek witness testimony from them.
We also recommend that victims keep a diary detailing how their injuries are affecting their life. For example, perhaps you are missing your regular yoga class, or you have to cancel plans with friends and family due to your injuries. You can also detail your doctor’s appointments, sleepless nights, your levels of pain, missed work, and more. All of this could serve as valuable evidence to establish your damages and how much you are owed in compensation.
File a Report
Depending on where and how your injury occurred, you may need to file a report. For example, if your injury occurred in your workplace, then you may be required to file an incident report with your employer. Or if you were in a car accident, then you may be required to inform your insurance company.
In both instances, your report could be an important piece of evidence for your claim. However, you should keep your initial report vague to prevent accidentally saying something which could harm your case. Do not speculate fault in any way or claim that you could have misused the product. Simply report the accident and that you have been injured. Once you have representation from a product liability attorney, they will take over all negotiations with insurance companies which will protect your rights to compensation.
Contact Abraham Watkins
To maximize your chances of securing just and fair compensation, you should speak to an experienced property liability lawyer as soon as possible. When you secure representation from an attorney here at Abraham Watkins, we will get to work quickly to protect evidence, investigate your claim, determine the value of your damages, and negotiate with the at-fault party to secure a settlement that is representative of your losses.
Do I Really Need a Product Liability Lawyer?
In the state of Texas, you are within your rights to pursue a product liability claim without the help of an attorney. However, pursuing a claim on your own is not recommended, as not only can it be an incredibly stressful process, those who do pursue a claim on their own usually end up with far less than what they deserve.
A product liability attorney from Abraham Watkins will provide a wealth of experience, skills, and resources that will benefit your case. They will also take over the entire legal process and negotiations with insurance companies, so you can focus on your recovery.
Large product manufacturers will have large legal teams on hand whose job it is to save their company money by limiting the amount that they payout to victims. When you have an experienced product liability lawyer on your side, you level the playing field. The insurance company overseeing your case will be more likely to take your case seriously, and when the threat of a court case looms over them, they will not be able to get away with a low settlement.
Product liability litigation is complex, and there are many personal injury lawyers who will not take a product liability claim to court. At Abraham Watkins, we are always prepared to take a case to court if necessary to secure just and fair compensation. It is common for insurance defense lawyers to know which attorneys are willing to file a product liability lawsuit and which aren’t, and this can make a significant impact on their willingness to offer you a fair settlement rather than risk losing more in court.
Our product liability lawyers will:
- Determine the basis of your claim
- Collect all available evidence
- Build a strong case utilizing a range of resources
- Manage documents, timelines, and deadlines
- Secure expert testimony, such as testimony related to product design and use
- Negotiate with insurance companies
- Calculate your past and future losses to determine a just settlement value
- Prepare for court
- Represent you in court if necessary
How Much Compensation Could I Secure in a Product Liability Claim?
Every personal injury claim is unique, and the value of your claim will depend on many factors, such as the quality of your representation, how clear liability is, and the value of your damages.
There are three types of damages. Economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Your attorney will determine the value of your damages so that they can fight for a fair settlement.
Economic damages are any tangible economic losses as a result of a defective product. While some economic damages are easily evidenced, such as your past medical bills and property damage, others, such as your future medical expenses, could require expert testimony to establish. Economic damages include the following:
- Lost Wages – If you have taken time away from work due to your injuries, then you should be compensated for your lost wages.
- Lost Earning Capacity – If your injuries are severe and you are unlikely to return to work in the same capacity, then you could be compensated for a lifetime of lost earnings.
- Medical Expenses – All medical expenses relating to your injuries should be considered in your settlement, including hospital bills, prescription costs, transport to and from the hospital, physiotherapy, and more.
- Future Medical Costs – If your injuries are ongoing, then your future costs should also be reflected in your settlement. It can be difficult to provide evidence for future costs, especially if they are substantial. Your attorney may need to draw upon expert testimony to determine the value of your future costs.
Non-economic damages, also known as pain and suffering damages, are available to compensate personal injury victims for their emotional suffering. That includes emotional trauma, physical pain, and the impact on your quality of life. If your injuries are preventing you from living your life in the same way as before then, this should be considered in your settlement.
Non-economic damages are not easily evidenced, as there are no receipts or obvious numbers attached to them. However, depending on the extent of your injuries they could make up for a large percentage of your settlement. An experienced product liability lawyer will understand how to evidence your pain and suffering and will fight for a just settlement that is difficult to argue with.
Economic and non-economic damages are both compensatory damages designed to compensate the victim for their losses. Punitive damages are different. They are a way to punish the perpetrator for their actions or to deter similar behavior in the future. They can only be awarded by a Judge in cases that go to court and only in cases involving willful intent or gross negligence. Therefore, they are not available in every case.
Losing a Loved One Because of a Dangerous or Defective Product
In the worst cases of defective and dangerous products, the victim loses their life. If you have lost a family member this way, then no amount of money can begin to heal your grief. However, it can ensure that you do not have to suffer financially as a result.
In a wrongful death claim, a family member such as a parent, child, or spouse can claim compensation for damages relating to the incident that caused their loved one’s death. Damages could include funeral expenses, loss of income to a family household, loss of companionship, and more.
At Abraham Watkins, we understand the care and dedication that these cases require and will fight tirelessly to secure just compensation. We will take over the entire legal process so that you are not left with the stress of a legal battle.
Contact Abraham Watkins Today for a Free Consultation
If you or someone you love has been injured by a defective product, then you should contact a product liability lawyer at Abraham Watkins as quickly as possible. Our law firm has been established for more than 70 years, and in that time, we have developed a wealth of skills, experience, and resources that can benefit your case.
We are committed to personal injury victims and will fight tirelessly to secure just compensation. At the same time, we will strive to hold liable parties accountable so that products are recalled, and practices improve to prevent future harm.
Schedule a free consultation call today at 713-535-9319.
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