Defective product and product liability actions are, unfortunately, common occurrences: think of Takata’s massive airbag recall, children’s toys with choking hazards, or the current vaping illnesses. When you or a loved one use a defective product and it causes you harm, you may be able to hold the responsible party or parties liable for your injuries and losses.
A product liability attorney can provide legal guidance on filing a product liability claim – from preserving evidence to understanding the process from beginning to end. Following is a basic overview of what you should know if you or a loved one were injured by a defective product.
Elements of a product liability claim
To understand whether or not you have an eligible product liability case in Georgia, it’s important to understand the elements of a claim. For a successful claim, you must prove these general points:
- The product was defective
- Your injury was caused by the defect
- You were using the item as intended when you were hurt
- The item wasn’t altered or was generally in the same condition as purchased
You don’t need to be the original owner or purchaser of the product in order to file a liability claim. Additionally, the state of Georgia imposes “strict liability” in these types of claims, meaning that you only need to prove that the product was defective – not that the manufacturer was negligent.
The three kinds of product defects
All product liability cases are the result of one or a combo of the following types of defects:
- Design defects. These happen when the very design of the product is unsafe, and every product manufactured is possibly hazardous. For example, if the design of a coffeemaker has a badly designed shutoff switch, every unit has the potential to catch on fire.
- Manufacturing defects. A manufacturing defect happens when there’s a mistake in the way the product is made. Using the coffeemaker example, the shutoff switch may have been designed correctly, but a manufacturing error caused faulty wiring to result in some units to catch fire.
- Warning defects. If a manufacturer fails to include proper warning about the potential hazards of a product, a product may also be considered defective. You’ll notice that most products come with many warnings – some ridiculous – and this is why. Failure to warn of possible dangers can cause serious personal injury.
Statute of limitations on product liability cases
Under Georgia law, you have two years to bring a product liability claim resulting from a dangerous and defective product.
What should I do if I’m injured by a defective product?
The more evidence and documentation you have to strengthen your case, the better. If you can, try to collect and save the following if you’re hurt by a dangerous product:
- Although it may be your first instinct, don’t contact the manufacturer. Their response will likely be to ask you to return the product, and they will not be prepared to compensate you either fairly or fully. It’s crucial you hold on to any part of the product and packaging you have.
- Preserve the product in its current condition and take photographs. Ensure you also photograph and preserve the packaging, receipts and instructions.
- Keep all records and documentation of your injuries, doctor visits and medical treatments, no matter how minor.
- If you were injured in a car accident caused by a product defect, ensure the tow shop or garage that has your vehicle does not damage or total it in any way before you or your lawyers can photograph and document it.
The product liability attorneys at Harris Lowry Manton LLP have decades of experience in protecting the rights of people injured by dangerous products. Our firm has secured millions of dollars on behalf of our clients, including some of the #1 verdicts for these types of claims in Georgia. We’ll fight to hold the right people accountable. To schedule a free consultation, please call us at 404-998-8847 in Atlanta, at 912-417-3774 in Savannah, or fill out our contact form.