Product Liability Claims In California: Pursuing Compensation

When you purchase products, you rightly expect them to be safe for use. However, there are instances where defects in products can lead to serious injuries or even fatalities. In California, product liability laws are designed to protect consumers and hold manufacturers, distributors, and sellers accountable for defective products.

Over the years, the state has seen a number of high-profile product liability cases that have yielded multi-million and even multi-billion dollar settlements. In 2019, for instance, Pacific Gas & Electric agreed to pay $13.5 billion in damages to victims of four deadly California wildfires that were blamed on the company’s faulty or aging equipment. According to Forbes, citing a Bureau of Justice Statistics study, product liability cases pay a median of $748,000.

So, what should you know about product liability laws in California? What kind of defects may result in a product liability claim? And what steps should you take if you or a loved one have been harmed by a defective product?

This quick guide will provide the answers.

Understanding Product Liability Laws in California

Product liability laws in California are based on the principle that manufacturers and sellers have a duty to provide safe products to consumers. Injured consumers can file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer, distributor, or seller of a defective product.

This type of lawsuit is generally based on the theory of strict liability, which means that the defendant is liable even if they were not negligent. According to the California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1, the statute of limitations for product liability claims in California is two years from the date of the injury. However, always check with local counsel as these dates change over the years.

Don’t Delay

Although it may seem like a long time, it’s important to file your claim as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be for you and any witnesses to remember crucial details from the day of the accident and important pieces of evidence could get lost or concealed.

A Note on Wrongful Death

A manufacturing flaw that results in a fatality can also be the basis for a wrongful death claim if the defect was known at the time of product failure. However, depending on the circumstances and nature of the flaw, it’s possible to make a claim even if the flaw was not known in advance.

There are three main types of defects that can give rise to product liability claims:

  1. Design Defects: These occur when the design of a product makes it inherently unsafe, even if manufactured correctly. An example could be a car with a design flaw that makes it prone to rolling over during normal driving conditions.
  2. Manufacturing Defects: These defects happen during the manufacturing process and result in a product that deviates from its intended design. For instance, a batch of prescription drugs may be contaminated during production, causing harm to users.
  3. Marketing Defects (Failure to Warn): If a product doesn’t include proper warnings or instructions about its potential risks or dangers, it may be considered defective. An example could be a medication that doesn’t include warnings about potential side effects when combined with other common drugs. Other examples are machinery where warning stickers should be placed in areas seen by the consumer.

Products that Can Lead to Liability Claims

A wide range of products can potentially fall under product liability claims. Some common examples of defects that may result in serious injuries include:

  • Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices: Defective drugs, malfunctioning medical devices, and inadequately tested treatments.
  • Automobiles and Auto Parts: Defective brakes, airbags, steering systems, or other critical components.
  • Consumer Electronics: Faulty batteries, overheating devices, and electronics that pose fire or shock hazards.
  • Children’s Toys and Products: Defective toys with small parts that pose choking hazards, and products containing harmful chemicals or flammable materials.

Filing a Product Liability Claim in California

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident and a malfunctioning product may be to blame, what should you do next? Here are a few general steps to keep in mind:

  1. Seek Medical Attention: Prioritize your health and seek medical treatment for your injuries. Document your medical records and expenses, as they will be crucial for your claim.
  2. Preserve the Product: Keep the defective product and any associated documents, packaging, and receipts as evidence.
  3. Consult an Attorney: Seek legal counsel from a skilled personal injury attorney with trial experience in California. They can help evaluate your case and guide you through the legal process.
  4. Investigation and Gathering Evidence: Your attorney will investigate the product, review your medical records, and gather evidence to establish the defect’s cause and your injuries.
  5. Identifying Liable Parties: Your attorney will determine who is liable for the defect, whether it’s the manufacturer, distributor, retailer, or a combination of parties.
  6. Negotiations and Settlement: A skilled attorney should be able to negotiate with the responsible parties or their insurers to reach a fair settlement. This may involve compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
  7. Filing a Lawsuit: If a settlement cannot be reached, your attorney may advise filing a lawsuit. Your case will proceed through the legal system, potentially ending in a trial.
  8. Proving Liability: A skilled attorney should be able to present evidence to prove that the product was defective and that the defect directly caused your injuries.
  9. Damages and Compensation: If successful, you may receive compensation for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages.
  10. Statute of Limitations: Again, Be mindful of California’s statute of limitations for product liability claims, which generally allows you two years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit.

Summing Up

Product liability claims in California are a means to hold manufacturers accountable for providing safe products to consumers. If you or a loved one have suffered injuries due to a defective product, remember that you have legal rights to pursue compensation.

Contact us at Penney & Associates. Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys know what it takes to navigate the complexities of product liability laws and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Call us at (800) 616-4529 or reach out via our website.

Read More:
The Alarming Rise in Bicycling Fatalities: How to File a Lawsuit
Deadly Road Crash Spotlights Implications of Common Carrier Law
Dog Bite Statistics: These Breeds Are the Most Prone to Attack

* This blog is not meant to dispense legal advice and is not a comprehensive review of the facts, the law, this topic or cases related to the topic. For a full review of our disclaimer and policies, please click here.

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