At Price Benowitz LLP, each DC product liability lawyer in our personal injury practice group is dedicated to protecting every consumer threatened or injured as a result of defective products, because unlike other serious injury cases that affect a single patient or accident victim, dangerous products pose a risk to the entire community. If a product has a design flaw or a manufacturing defect, or if the manufacturer takes inadequate safety precautions or is guilty of faulty marketing, an injured consumer has the right to seek restitution and the duty to raise awareness of the danger. If you have suffered an injury or your loved one has died due to the use of a dangerous or defective product in Washington, DC, one of our experienced personal injury attorneys can help. We can also provide you with representation if you, or someone you love, have been harmed by a dangerous or defective product in Virginia.
Loosely defined, the term product liability refers to the legal responsibility of those involved in the design, production, manufacture, distribution, and sale of a product, to ensure that the product is safe for consumption. Product liability is based on the premise that all consumers have a basic right to safe and effective products. Therefore, if you have been injured by a defective product you may be entitled to financial compensation for your pain and suffering and other related costs. A dedicated DC product liability lawyer will aggressively pursue your claim and investigate every available option for optimal results. That may include negotiating a settlement prior to trial, or taking the case all the way to court. A well-qualified DC product liability attorney will have the experience and knowledge needed to determine which option is best-suited for their client, and that attorney will also provide potential clients with an honest assessment of their case and let them know if it is likely to result in compensation. This is a serious consideration for any dangerous products victim, because compensation may be available for a variety of damages, including lost wages, medical bills, property damage, harms and losses suffered by the individual, punitive damages and, in the event a loved one’s death, funeral expenses. To thoroughly understand your particular situation and your best course of action contact a product liability lawyer who is located in Washington, DC. For a simple review of the types of products that fall within the realm of product liability and the legal conditions that affect product liability cases, please use this page only as a general guide.
Types of Dangerous/Defective Products
There are a number of examples of dangerous or defective products that can trigger serious accidents or illnesses including, but not limited to:
- Dangerous Drugs
- Baby products, such as drop-side cribs, infant carriers, strollers, high chairs, car seats, sleep positioners, and collapsible play yards
- Children’s clothing and toys, such as drawstring hoodies, flammable clothing, action figures, dolls, and building sets
- Medical products
- Pools and spas
- Space heaters
- And automobiles
A dangerous or defective product can cause a myriad of serious, and sometimes life-threatening, injuries that include choking, suffocation, laceration, amputation, severe burns and eye injuries. Merely suffering such injuries, however, may not be enough to prove fault on the part of the product manufacturer or the company that sold the defective or dangerous product. To prove your claim, you should first understand the theories and types of liability that you may claim.
Theories of Liability
In the United States, the four most common product liability claims:
- Strict liability
- Breach of warranty
- And consumer protection claims, which can vary widely depending upon the jurisdiction of the claim.
The vast majority of product liability laws are enforced at the state level and, therefore, can differ greatly. That is why it is imperative that anyone who has suffered as the result of a dangerous or defective product In the District of Columbia seek the assistance of a well-qualified DC product liability lawyer.
Types of Liability
Within the previous claims areas are three overall types of product liability claims. They are:
- Manufacturing defects
- Design defects
- And a failure to warn (also known as marketing defects)
In most states, these three claim types are not legal claims on their own. They are pleaded in the terms of the legal theories previously discussed. For example, if you were injured as a result of a poorly manufactured product, such as an automobile that was built and sold with a faulty ignition system or braking system, you may plead manufacturing defects and negligence on the part of the manufacturer or auto maker. To understand the differences between the three types of claims you should know that:
- Manufacturing defects are generally those that occur in the manufacturing process. Such defects are typically the result of shoddy workmanship or the use of cheap or substandard materials;
- Design defects are the result of an inherently defective product design. This means that no matter how carefully the product may be made, the defective design means the product will fail to meet basic safety standards and expectations;
- Failure-to-warn defects are found in products that pose dangers that are not obvious and those dangers could be mitigated via public warnings. It’s important to note those dangers will exist regardless of how well the product is manufactured and designed. An example of failure-to-warn or marketing defects would be an over-the-counter drug sold without a label warning that it may cause dangerous side effects if taken in combination with other common over-the-counter medications.
Negligence claims are among the most common product liability claims made and are based on five general points:
- A duty was owed;
- There was a breach of that duty;
- The breach was the actual cause of the plaintiff’s injury;
- The breach proximately caused, or was sufficiently related to, the injury.
- The plaintiff suffered quantifiable damages.
Strict Liability Claims
Strict liability focuses on the product itself rather than the negligence, recklessness, or carelessness of the manufacturer. Under strict liability, a manufacturer can be held legally liable for a defective product even if the manufacturer was not negligent in making the product dangerous or defective.
Strict liability can be a particularly challenging claim to prove because it requires the plaintiff to show that the manufacturer’s conduct fell below the “relevant standard of care.” There are a number of complications that can arise in such a claim, including entire industries setting a very low bar for manufacturing in an effort to deliver cheap goods. This can work against the victim, or plaintiff, because even though they may have suffered serious injury, everyone within the trade would testify that the manufacturer’s conduct, or process, was not negligent because it conformed to the industry’s low standards. Add to that the difficulty posed by finding reliable expert witnesses who can establish the true standard of care and you will realize this is a tricky area of product liability law that requires the skills of a deft and tenacious DC product liability lawyer.
Breach of Warranty Claims
To better understand breach of warranty claims, you should know that warranties are essentially statements that are made by the manufacturer or the company selling the product. Civil warranty claims typically require the consumer and the manufacturer or the seller to deal with one another directly.
Consumer Protection Claims
In addition to the above civil claims, the District of Columbia and many states have enacted their own consumer protection statutes. In Washington, DC, the consumer protection law that the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) and the Office of Consumer and Trade Protection Section of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) enforces is called the Consumer Protection Procedures Act. The act is designed to protect consumers from merchants that may commit “deceptive and unfair practices.” This includes a private right of action under which a person may obtain:
- Treble, or triple, damages or $1,500 per violation, whichever is greater;
- Reasonable attorney’s fees;
- Punitive damages, which is money awarded by a judge or jury;
- And an injunction against the use of unlawful trade practices.
The Consumer Protection Procedures Act is an extensive statute. For more information on all the specific details of the act, please visit the DC website here.
A Product Liability Lawyer can Help
Though it can be a challenge to litigate, product safety should never be taken lightly or dismissed. If you, or a loved one, have been injured by an unsafe product, you must seek skilled legal advice to determine your next steps. At Price Benowitz LLP, our DC product liability lawyers have the knowledge, skill, and resources to pursue any injury or wrongful death claim. We will fight not only for maximum compensation, but to send a clear message that a disregard for product safety, and therefore everyone’s safety, will not be tolerated in Washington, DC. For a free evaluation of your case, contact the law offices of Price Benowitz today.