When you purchase a product, you expect the product to be safe. You do not expect a product to cause an injury. Sadly, it happens more often than many people realize.
Defective products are dangerous. They cause thousands of injuries each year. In some cases, they cause a person’s death.
Our Oklahoma City product liability attorneys at the McGuire Law Firm have extensive experience handling product liability claims. We help victims, and their families receive the compensation they deserve after being injured by a defective or dangerous product.
If you or your child sustained an injury because of a product, contact our office for a free case review. Let us help you hold manufacturers and other parties responsible for producing and selling defective products.
What is Product Liability Law?
Product liability law is the area of the law that holds designers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and other responsible parties liable for defective and dangerous products.
These parties owe a duty of care to the consumers who purchase and use the products they produce and sell. If a product injuries someone, the injured party can sue for damages under product liability laws.
There are three common types of product liability claims:
- Defective Design — The product was inherently dangerous or hazardous because of a design flaw.
- Manufacturing Defect — An error or problem in the manufacturing process led to a defective product. The error could involve the use of inferior products, taking shortcuts, or lack of quality control.
- Failure to Warn — An injury occurred because the manufacturer failed to warn the consumer of specific risks or hazards from using the product, or the manufacturer failed to include adequate instructions for the proper care and use of the product.
If a product injures you, seek immediate medical care for your injuries. Documenting injuries is essential for a product liability claim. You must prove that the product caused your injuries.
Do not get rid of the product unless it is unsafe to keep. Secure the product, including instructions, packaging, and all parts of the product. An Oklahoma City product liability lawyer can retain experts to examine the product to determine how it is defective and why it caused your injury.
Common Defective Products That Can Cause Injuries
Thousands of products are recalled and reported as unsafe each year in the United States. However, a product does not need to be recalled to be dangerous. Many products that are never subject to a recall cause injuries.
Some common examples of defective products that are subject to product liability claims include, but are not limited to:
- Children’s toys and furniture
- Medical devices and equipment
- Cars, motorcycles, trucks, and other vehicles
- Pharmaceutical drugs
- Hot tubs, pools, and other related equipment
- Kitchens appliances and household products
- Tools and construction equipment
- Electronic cigarettes and vaping devices
- Vehicle airbags and seat belts
The potential exists for any consumer product to be defective and cause an injury. If a manufacturer, designer, or other party was aware of or should have been aware of the defect, that party could be liable for the person’s injuries caused by a defective product.
Do I Need an Oklahoma City Product Liability Attorney to File a Claim?
You are not required to hire an attorney to file a product liability claim. However, there are advantages of consulting an attorney as soon as possible after a product liability claim.
Product liability laws are complicated. An attorney understands the laws and how to apply the laws in your case.
Furthermore, an attorney has the resources, skills, and experience necessary to investigate a defective product claim. In many cases, experts are needed to inspect the product to determine how the defect occurred and how that defect caused your injury.
Other benefits of hiring an Oklahoma product liability lawyer include having an experienced lawyer who can:
- Identify the party or parties who are might be liable for your injuries and damages.
- Research and locate documentation and evidence proving the product was defective or dangerous.
- Research application federal and state laws, including government regulations applicable in your case.
- Retain medical experts, mechanical experts, and other professionals to assist with the case.
- Handle the insurance company, including dealing with insurance claims adjusters, investigators, and insurance defense lawyers.
- Document damages and calculating the maximum value of a product liability claim.
- Draft and preparing a comprehensive demand settlement package and negotiating for a fair settlement.
- Prepare and file a product liability lawsuit, if necessary.
- Monitor deadlines throughout the case.
Having a legal team on your side from the beginning of your case protects you from unfair insurance tactics and reduces the chance you might make an error that could hurt your claim.
How Often Do Defective Products Cause Injuries?
It is estimated that defective products cause millions of injuries each year in the United States. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission maintains injury statistics on hundreds of consumer products. Consumers can also search to see if a product has been recalled on the CPSC website.
Injuries Caused by Defective and Hazardous Products
The injuries caused by defective products vary based on the product, how it is used, and the circumstances surrounding the accident. Many injuries caused by hazardous products result in permanent impairments and disabilities.
Common injuries caused by defective products include, but are not limited to:
- Burns, scarring, and disfigurement
- Injuries to the face and hands
- Brain injuries, including traumatic brain injury and skull fractures
- Internal bleeding and damage to organs
- Electrocution and other electrical injuries
- Broken bones
- Life-threatening health conditions, especially in the case of dangerous drugs and defective medical devices
- Paralysis, blindness, and loss of hearing
When an injury causes a permanent disability, the victim may be entitled to additional compensation. Future loss of income, ongoing personal care, medical treatments, and loss of quality of life are common damages included in a product liability claim involving permanent impairments.
How Much is an Oklahoma City Product Liability Claim Worth?
The value of an Oklahoma product liability claim can be challenging to calculate. It is impossible to put a price on a person’s suffering. However, a monetary award is the only way the judicial system has of compensating a person for a personal injury.
Therefore, an Oklahoma product liability lawyer must determine how much a product liability claim is worth based on the evidence in the case. The first element of a product liability claim is the financial losses incurred by the victim.
Common financial losses included in a defective product claim are:
- Loss of income;
- Medical expenses;
- Travel to doctor’s offices;
- Personal care;
- Help with household chores;
- Medication and medical equipment;
- Physical and occupational therapy;
- Investigation costs; and,
- Attorneys’ fees.
The value of the financial losses is the total of the actual expenses for each item. However, pain and suffering damages are more difficult to calculate.
Noneconomic or “pain and suffering” damages include:
- Physical suffering and pain
- Emotional suffering and distress
- Mental anguish
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of quality of life
- Permanent impairments and disabilities
Factors used to calculate pain and suffering damages include the type and severity of the injury; the impact on the person’s daily life; and, the level of permanent impairment. An Oklahoma product liability lawyer can use the facts of the case and testimony from expert witnesses to maximize the value of pain and suffering damages.
What Happens if I Was Partially to Blame for My Injury?
Under Oklahoma’s modified comparative fault laws, being partially to blame for your injury does not keep you from recovering compensation for a product liability claim. It can reduce the money you receive for your claim.
For example, if a defective firework injures you, and you were not wearing protective eyewear, you may still file a product liability claim. However, if the jury finds that your failure to wear protective eyewear as instructed on the firework’s packaging contributed 40 percent to your eye injury, the value of your claim is reduced by 40 percent.
If a jury finds you to be 51 percent or more at fault for your injuries, you cannot receive any money for your claim.
An insurance company may try to argue comparative fault to reduce how much money it must pay for a claim. The argument of comparative fault is often used even if the victim did not contribute in any way to the accident. It is a standard insurance tactic used to avoid paying full compensation for valid injury claims.
Is There a Deadline for Filing a Product Liability Lawsuit in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma has a two-year statute of limitations on most personal injury claims, including product liability claims. In most cases, a person has two years from the date of injury to file an injury claim related to a dangerous or defective product. If you do not file your claim before the two-year deadline, you lose your right to pursue a legal claim against the responsible party.
However, there may be exceptions to the statutes of limitations for product liability cases in Oklahoma. In cases involving minors, the minor has one year after his or her 18th birthday to file a claim. Also, if the injury could not be identified until later, the victim may have additional time to file a claim under the discovery rule.
It is best to talk to an attorney as soon as possible instead of waiting until your time to file a claim is about to expire. The steps you take immediately after and in the months following a defective product injury can impact the outcome of your case.
Contact an Experienced Product Liability Attorney in Oklahoma City
If a defective product caused your injury, you might be entitled to substantial compensation. However, you must prove that the manufacturer or other party is responsible for your injury. For that, you need the help of an experienced Oklahoma City product liability lawyer.
Contact the McGuire Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss your case with an attorney. Learn how we can help you seek justice and compensation from the party responsible for your injury.