Experienced Products Liability Attorneys in New Jersey
Products liability law holds any or all parties in the chain of manufacturing for a particular product liable for damage caused by the product. Depending on the type of defective product and the alleged defect, liable parties can include the manufacturer, distributor, supplier, or retailer.
Product liability cases can be boiled down to simple expectations: a product must meet the reasonable expectations of a consumer. If it fails to do so and causes injury in the process, there could be grounds for a product liability case. This can range from a child seat that comes unbuckled for seemingly no reason; to a medicine that does not warn against the dangers of taking it while pregnant; to a gas stove that releases an unreasonably high flame when turned on. If a product does not behave the way it should, does not come with adequate warnings or instructions, or is unreasonably unsafe, products liability law can come into play.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective product, it is important to get an experienced attorney involved as soon as possible. Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi have won a number of multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements, including a $600,000 award for a truck driver injured by a defectively designed truck ladder. Contact Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi at (201) 585-9111 or fill out an online form to schedule your free and confidential consultation.
What Are the Major Types of Product Liability Claims?
Product liability is an umbrella term for several different types of claims. The three most common types of defects in product liability cases are:
Design defects are flaws in the original blueprint of a product that caused it to be unreasonably dangerous or hazardous for potential users. To prove defective design, the plaintiff must be able to show the product was inherently flawed; in other words, even if the product was used as instructed, it would still be dangerous.
The following questions help determine whether or not a design defect exists:
- Was the product’s design unreasonably dangerous prior to production?
- Was it plausible to anticipate the design of the product could harm a potential user?
- Could the manufacturer have used an economically feasible superior design that would not alter the purpose of the product?
Answering yes to any of these questions means there could be grounds for a products liability claim.
Claiming a design defect sometimes requires that the plaintiff show negligence in the defective design, but in other cases, a manufacturer can be found liable if the plaintiff can show there was a safe, cost-effective alternative. (For example, General Motors faced litigation in 2014 for manufacturing defective ignition switches that led to more than a dozen deaths and could have been fixed for less than $1 per car.)
Manufacturing defects are a departure from a designer’s or manufacturer’s specifications for a product. In these cases, the manufacturer fails to produce products according to the pre-determined plan, resulting in an unsafe final product.
Manufacturing defects are among the easiest to prove because the internal design standards or specifications will show the final product was manufactured incorrectly.
Marketing defects occur when a product is improperly labeled. Marketing defects are commonly known as the failure to provide adequate warning labels or instructions. Failure to warn consumers of hidden safety hazards or provide consumers with adequate instructions for safe handling of the product can open up the company to product liability.
In more troubling cases, a company will intentionally misrepresent a product to minimize risks, increase sales, or meet other internal goals. This can also qualify as product liability if the misrepresentation leads to injury or other damages.
What Must You Prove in a Product Liability Case?
Product liability is one area of the law in which the plaintiff has a significant advantage over the defendant. Typically, a defendant manufacturer, supplier, or retailer is unaware of the product defect until a claim is brought—giving you and your attorney plenty of time to gather evidence and prepare a claim before alerting the liable party.
Plaintiffs in product liability cases also benefit from certain legal principles. When dealing with manufacturing defects, plaintiffs do not typically have to prove the manufacturer was negligent in the case—only that the product was defective. Res ipsa loquitor, meaning “the thing speaks for itself” in Latin, applies in certain cases and means the defect would not exist unless someone in the manufacturing process was negligent; therefore, the plaintiff is not required to prove the defendant was negligent—it is the defendant’s responsibility to prove it was not negligent. In other manufacturing defects cases, strict liability can apply, meaning the plaintiff must only prove that the product was defective (not that the manufacturer was negligent).
In typical products liability cases, the plaintiff must prove the following:
- He or she was injured or suffered other damages
- The product in question was somehow defective or lacked proper instructions
- The defect, or lack of warnings, caused the injury or damages
- When injured, he or she was using the product in the manner it was reasonably intended to be used
What Injuries Are Possible in Product Liability Cases?
With an umbrella term like products liability, a wide variety of injuries are possible. Faulty manufacturing and defective design can contribute to a number of injuries and deadly side effects, including:
- Brain injuries
- Head and face trauma
- Back injuries
- Paralysis and spinal cord damage
- Neck injuries and whiplash
- Catastrophic injuries
- Psychological injuries
- Broken bones and disfigurement
- Scrapes, bruises, and lacerations
- Dental injuries
- Internal organ trauma
- Emotional pain and suffering
When Should You File Suit?
There is a two-year statute of limitations in products liability cases in New Jersey. In other words, once you discover (or reasonably should have discovered) the product defect, you have two years to file suit against the manufacturer, seller, distributor, or other guilty party. Failure to file a claim within two years means you will forfeit your right to compensation for your injuries.
Company attorneys and insurance companies often aggressively fight products liability cases because a successful case can open up the door for similar cases and cost the seller a large sum of money. That being said, it is important to contact an experienced products liability attorney who can obtain engineering reports, develop models or graphics of the product, take detailed statements from witnesses or government representatives, and thoroughly investigate your claim.
Hire a New Jersey Products Liability Attorney
In a complex legal area like products liability, it is crucial to have an experienced attorney on your side. Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi has more than eight decades’ worth of cumulative experience in trial law, and they are prepared to aggressively pursue your claim. The manufacturer or seller of a defective product should be held accountable for the harm caused by their unsafe products, and Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi will work tirelessly to recover your losses.
Contact Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi at (201) 585-9111 or fill out a Quick Inquiry form to schedule your free and confidential consultation.