Our economy is governed by the principle of “caveat emptor,” a Latin phrase meaning “let the buyer beware.” In the broadest terms, caveat emptor puts the responsibility for determining if a product is working properly on you as the purchaser. However, the law recognizes that sometimes no amount of vigilance could have uncovered a product’s defects.
It is in these instances where product liability comes into play. If you or someone in your family has been hurt by a faulty product, you may be able to recover damages through a product liability lawsuit.
You might think that product liability applies only in major cases, such as a car with a hidden defect that results in a significant crash or a home with problems that lead to sudden or gradual injuries. Those are two examples, but product liability law can come into play with even the most everyday products.
As a general matter, product liability laws hold manufacturers responsible for injuries stemming from defective products. The defects do not have to be the result of negligence. You can also file product liability claims using theories of strict liability or breach of warranty of fitness.
Product liability litigation is common and has likely affected more than a few products that are familiar to you. It certainly has gotten the attention of manufacturers, as demonstrated by the growing amounts spent on premiums for product liability insurance. According to the Insurance Information Institute, insurers wrote $3.2 billion worth of net premiums on product liability insurance in 2020, up about 50% in less than 10 years. Some of the liability cases you may have heard about over time include:
If you believe that a product you have purchased has caused a serious injury or illness, you may have grounds for a product liability lawsuit. You do not have to be the first — or even one of the first — to have used the product at issue to pursue litigation.
What you have to show is a link between your injury or illness and a defect in the product itself. But that defect does not necessarily have to be the direct result of negligence or willful misconduct. A company can be liable for simple mistakes that happen in the manufacturing or design of a product or for failure to describe the use of the product or provide proper warnings to users.
If something like this happens to you, documentation is critical. Make sure you preserve the product at issue in its current form, collect documents proving when and where you bought it, and jot down notes, including dates, times, and places, of what happened before the use and afterward.
Sometimes speaking to a lawyer upfront can help with the process, as they can define the documentation you need and how to go about getting it. Consider a consultation with products liability attorneys such as those on the products liability team at Goodman Acker. Our attorneys have more than a century of combined experience in this field.
If you have been hurt or made sick by a defective product, there are many potential areas of costs that you may be able to recover in court or through negotiations with insurance carriers.
Every case is different, but generally, you may be able to get relief for items such as medical bills, lost wages for both time off of work and any reduced earning capacity into the future, emotional distress caused by any element of the product’s liability, and reduced quality of life.
Your attorney will be able to help identify and sort out the proper parties for the lawsuit, as organizations with their subsidiaries can sometimes become confusing to untangle and map out. The ultimate responsibility for the product defect could arise anywhere in the long chain of events, leading to the delivery of the product to a store shelf.
Product liability laws in Michigan are covered by a three-year statute of limitations. While that seems like a long time, it really isn’t. Getting proper documentation of your claim and related injuries can require patience. Consult with product liability lawyers such as those at Goodman Acker to understand your rights and decide whether to take action before the statute of limitations runs out.
Once the three-year period lapses, it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to seek compensation through the filing of a lawsuit. The earlier you consult a lawyer, the sooner they will be able to help preserve your rights.
It’s also smart to contact an attorney quickly because product liability matters can get complicated and sometimes contentious very quickly. The organization involved may claim that you either used the product negligently and in the wrong way or that you assumed the risk by purchasing the item in the first place. Goodman Acker can counsel you on how to prepare your response.
It’s hard to know where to turn when you think you’ve been injured by a defective product. The company may be ignoring you or requiring you to work through an insurance company that is interested only in limiting the amount it has to pay. Let Goodman Acker P.C. of Detroit stand by your side. Our product liability attorneys have extensive experience in all types of product liability claims.
We know how to help you gather the evidence you need to make a successful claim, and we’ll negotiate on your behalf so you get the justice you deserve. We’re also motivated to get manufacturing companies to change their ways of producing dangerous or sloppy products or crafting proper warning labels. Call us for a free consultation today, or contact us online.
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