Defective Product Attorney in Los Angeles633 West Fifth Street, Suite 2200
Los Angeles, CA 90071
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Defective Product Lawyers in Los Angeles
Products that are dangerous or otherwise defective are the cause of countless injuries and the source of untold aggravation for consumers in Los Angeles every year. Suppose you purchase a product that doesn't perform as advertised. In that case, often, you have the option to return it for a refund or request amends through the product's warranty. However, if a defective product causes an injury to you or a loved one, Morgan and Morgan Law Firm can help you with a more powerful remedy in the form of a product liability lawsuit.
A product liability lawsuit is a civil action and provides the means for injured parties to seek compensation for damages resulting from a defective product. You could be eligible to get paid for medical care, lost wages, scarring or disfigurement, pain and suffering, and any other losses related to the defective product. Our defective product lawyers in Los Angeles have the knowledge and experience you'll need to ensure a successful resolution.
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What Is a Product Liability Lawsuit?
Product liability lawsuits are legal actions against a manufacturer or any entity in the chain of supply of the product, including wholesalers, retailers, distributors, and even those that assemble the product. This kind of legal action encompasses all steps in developing and selling the product, including the design, manufacture, and advertising stages.
What Is Strict Liability in Product Defect Law?
Under California law, everyone involved in the product and the marketing partnership is strictly liable (or legally responsible) for a defective product. In a strict liability lawsuit, you only have to prove the product was defective. In most civil actions for personal injury, you (the plaintiff) must prove negligence. However, that is irrelevant under strict liability law. The defendant might be on the hook for damages, whether the defect resulted from negligence or the company exercised great care to prevent harm from coming to its consumers. The intent has nothing to do with these cases. Damages are what matters.
However, in some circumstances, the courts may look to see if the defendant can overcome liability for the product's design flaw by using tests, even when the use of the product results in injury. These tests include:
Risk-utility test - The risk-utility test looks at costs versus benefits. In this case, a plaintiff must prove that using the product is riskier than the benefit. Under this standard, the court would examine whether a "reasonable person" would decide that taking precautions to avoid the potential for harm outweighs the benefit of the product's usefulness and, thus, not use it because of the risks involved.
Consumer expectation test - The consumer expectation test is used to conclude whether a product is defective or not. In a nutshell, it asks whether a "reasonable person" would conclude that a product was defective. For example, would another person be surprised that the product had the potential to cause injury? For instance, if we buy a gas grill, we don't expect it to explode while in use. Suppose the grill is designed in such a way that the propane tank is directly in touch with open flames. In that case, a reasonable person could conclude it's a dangerous and defective design. However, if the propane tank were hidden behind a grate where the user couldn't see how close it was to open flames, a reasonable person wouldn't be aware of the risks.
Why Does Los Angeles Have Strict Liability Laws?
Strict liability laws exist because Los Angeles courts have decided that it's only fair for a person or entity to pay for damages when they make and sell a defective product. It doesn't matter if they had no intention to cause harm or did everything they could to test the product before releasing it on the market.
We've seen countless cases of businesses putting profit over public safety, even when they have evidence of the dangers of the product, such as:
- Big tobacco
- Asbestos manufacturers
- Automobile and car part manufacturers
- Big pharmaceutical companies
- Medical device manufacturers
- Firearms manufacturers
- Chemical corporations
Another reason is that the consumer may not be in a position to prove what a business did wrong to make the product dangerous. Product development usually involves engineers, designers, analysts, and marketers. The information known to them is typically unavailable to consumers, and they wouldn't share it in many instances anyway. It's challenging for an injured party to prove negligence, so the courts have decided that strict liability laws promote justice equitably.
When Are You Eligible to File a Lawsuit for a Defective Product?
You must meet several criteria to start legal action for a dangerous product, medical device, or drug. The factors for eligibility include:
Proof of injury - In any civil claim, injury or proof of damages must exist to have a viable claim. It's not sufficient to prove the product is defective or dangerous, even if you have it inside your home. Injury or damages can be documented through medical records, pay stubs indicating lost income, invoices, receipts for repairs, estimates, and affidavits, for example. The more evidence you have to submit, the stronger your case will be.
Proof of defect - There must be proof that the product, its instructions, packaging, or advertising have a defect. For example, products that do not sufficiently warn users of potential dangers may have defective instructions or packaging. There is a reason why appliances come with a warning about the dangers of electric shock.
A clear causal link between injury and product defect - You must be able to demonstrate that the defective product caused your injury or losses. A severe facial burn may result from the use of a butane lighter, but was the burn caused by a defect in the device or because you weren't paying attention? There has to be a clear link between your injury and the defect. For example, maybe the flame's default status is high, but there were no warnings on the packaging that would prepare you for the flame shooting out like a torch instead of a flicker.
Evidence of proper use - The lawsuit would need to demonstrate that the injury occurred while the product was being used as intended. That means if you misused the product, you might not have a case, even if the product was inherently dangerous. For example, decorative dishes that are intended to be used for display should have disclaimers that indicate they are not food safe. If you use these dishes for food preparation and become ill, you might not have legal standing for a defective product claim.
California's statute of limitations for product liability claims - The last factor is filing a claim within the prescribed timeline. In California, you have just two years from the time of the injury or when you should have reasonably discovered the injury to file a claim. However, should the injury be accompanied by property damage, you have three years. Still, it's prudent to talk to one of our defective product lawyers in Los Angeles as soon as possible to ensure you don't lose your opportunity for compensation.
Why Is There a Statute of Limitations for Product Liability in California?
We have time limits for legal actions for various reasons, primarily because of fairness. In product liability claims particularly, the reasons include:
- The evidence may be lost or destroyed with the passage of time
- The product itself may be destroyed
- Access to medical records and documentation may be hard to come by after long periods
- It becomes more challenging to assess damages caused by the defective product over time
Are All Products Covered Under California's Strict Liability Law?
Most all products on the market are covered by California's Strict Liability Law, including household items and appliances, machinery, motor vehicles, clothing, personal hygiene products, food items and beverages, toys, electronic devices, etc.
The only exceptions are goods that are deemed "inherently unsafe" products and devices. That said, inherently unsafe does not extend to products commonly known to be hazardous such as alcohol and tobacco.
Previously, gun manufacturers enjoyed some protection at the federal level from civil lawsuits even when they violated state laws concerning the marketing and sale of firearms. However, in July 2022, Governor Newsom signed legislation that shifted liability to gun manufacturers. As of the writing of this article, it's too soon to know how this will play out as it concerns product liability lawsuits. Still, under the California Firearm Industry Responsibility Act (CFIR), gun makers can't manufacture or sell firearms or related products that are "abnormally dangerous and likely to create an unreasonable risk of harm or public health and safety." Furthermore, the CFIR prohibits the firearm industry from advertising its product to minors.
If the firearms industry harmed you or a loved one in Los Angeles, contact Morgan and Morgan to discuss your legal options for pursuing compensation.
Other products that have some immunity from product liability claims are prescription drugs and medical devices. Design defects don't count against manufacturers of these products as long as the products are correctly prepared and come with warnings concerning the possible dangers the manufacturer was aware of at the time of dispensation. Suppose known risks are not relayed to the consumer. In that case, strict liability for injuries can be imposed against the negligent manufacturer.
However, even if disclaimers are placed on a product, it doesn't automatically absolve the manufacturer of liability. When in doubt, it's best to consult with Morgan and Morgan Law Firm.
Product Liability Lawyers in Los Angeles
If you or someone you care about has been injured or you've experienced some loss due to a defective product, you may need the help of a lawyer to protect your rights. It's critical to preserve the defective product by handing it over to your lawyer so our product experts can run tests and do research. We will launch an extensive investigation and develop a winning legal strategy to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
In product liability cases, it really matters what kind of law firm you work with to prevail against powerful businesses. Product manufacturers may have sold millions of units of the same product to other consumers, so it's of paramount importance to them that your lawsuit won't start a tsunami of similar lawsuits for the same defect. This means they will pull out all of the stops to defeat you and may drag out litigation. They will be represented by the best defense lawyers money can buy. You should likewise be represented by the best defective product lawyers in Los Angeles.
At Morgan and Morgan, you will have the advice of high-level attorneys with the experience and resources needed to go up against the most powerful corporations in the United States. Our law firm has recovered billions of dollars for our clients. While many lawsuits are resolved through negotiations, some of our highest dollar wins are handed down through verdicts. That's not something that can be done without exceptional skills, determination, and, perhaps most importantly, mastery in the courtroom.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation.