PRODUCT LIABILITY text on torn paper background

Who Is Responsible if You’re Injured
by a Product?

Fitzgerald Law Aug. 8, 2022

You use, perhaps, dozens of products every day, and most without thinking about their safety. You use them as directed and expect they will be harmless. However, if you are injured by a product, is there someone you can hold accountable for the damages you suffer?

Millions of people are injured and thousands killed by unsafe products every year in this country. Those responsible for the dangers that led to harm should be held financially responsible for their actions or inactions.

At Fitzgerald Law, I represent clients in Glendale, Burbank, Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, and the San Gabriel Valley, California, who are seeking justice for the damages caused by hazardous products. If you have been injured, here are a few things you should know.

How Does California Law Apply to
Product Liability?

Product liability is a legal principle that gives a consumer injured by an unsafe or dangerous product a course of action to recover damages. It is a type of personal injury claim. However, under California’s doctrine of strict liability, there is no need to prove negligence or intent to harm on the part of the defendant.

Who Can Be Held Responsible for
Defective Products?

Who is liable for an injury caused by a product can vary. In most cases, it may be the manufacturer of the product, the distributors, suppliers, or the retailer who sold it. In some cases, other parties may share liability if their actions or inactions were somehow related to the hazard that caused the injury.

Product manufacturers have a duty to design safe products and to manufacture them without defects. They also have a duty to warn consumers of limits and potential dangers. Therefore, liability claims can be based on poor design, faulty manufacturing, or a failure to warn.

When a distributor supplies a product and when a retailer sells a product, they ensure the product is safe. This means that even though they did not design or manufacture the product, they have a legal responsibility to ensure that what they distribute and sell is safe.

California applies the doctrine of strict liability to product liability claims. The plaintiff bringing the action does not have to prove the defendant was negligent or intended to harm the plaintiff. The plaintiff need only prove a defect in the product caused their injury and resulting damages.

What Proof Do I Need in a Product
Liability Claim?

The burden is on the plaintiff to prove four facts in a California product liability claim:

  1. The product was defective in its design, its manufacture, or in a failure to warn of hazards and limitations;

  2. The product was unchanged by the plaintiff and used as intended;

  3. The defect rendered the product dangerous; and,

  4. The defect caused a consumer injury.

Although this progression of facts seems relatively easy to prove, product liability cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute. Defendants usually have the proverbial “deep pockets,” including liability insurance coverage with high policy limits. Their attorneys will do whatever it takes to successfully defend a claim.

Moreover, the statute of limitations for product liability claims is brief. It is wise to hire an experienced product liability attorney with an excellent track record as soon as you are injured.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Product Liability Claims in California?

You must settle a product liability claim with the liable party and its insurer or file a lawsuit within two years from the date of the injury or two years from the date you discovered the injury. For example, if you were injured in a car accident caused by a faulty brake system, you have two years from the date of the accident. If you were diagnosed with a medical issue caused by a hazardous medication you took years before, you have two years from the date of the diagnosis to settle your claim or file suit.

What Damages Are Recoverable in Product Liability Claims?

Recoverable damages in product liability claims are those recoverable for personal injury claims in California. You can recover economic damages, including the cost of past and present medical treatment and past and future lost wages. You can also recover for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, and loss of consortium.

Get Help From a Product Liability Attorney

Injuries from hazardous products are often serious and permanent. They are also often challenging and expensive to prove, requiring the use of engineering and other experts. At Fitzgerald Law, it is a challenge I embrace for my clients in Glendale and throughout California.

If you have been injured by a dangerous product, those responsible should be held accountable. Call Fitzgerald Law today to schedule a case consultation. Consultations are free, so call now.