If a product you trusted caused harm, the resulting physical injuries can be distressing. Moreover, the disappointment of a failed promise of safety and reliability, along with the shock and sense of betrayal that usually follows, makes the situation worse.
At The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP, we understand. Our lawyers have been standing up for the rights of Bakersfield residents since 1939. We believe everyone deserves justice and fair compensation after preventable injuries arise from defective or dangerous products. To us, you’re not just a client. You’re a member of the community who has been wronged, and we are committed to holding those at fault accountable.
Contact our firm today for a free case review and discover how our Bakersfield product liability and defective product lawyer can help you.
What Is Product Liability?
Product liability is an area of law that holds manufacturers, sellers, and certain other parties responsible for their products’ safety under different conditions. These laws are a set of rules for these companies to ensure that what they sell won’t unreasonably hurt consumers when their products are used as intended or as anticipated.
If you buy something defective or dangerous and get injured as a result, product liability laws may allow you to take legal action against one or more parties involved in manufacturing, distributing, or selling the item. This could occur if a product is designed poorly, made incorrectly, or comes without proper instructions or warnings about its risks.
Common Products Involved in Defective or Dangerous Product Injury Claims
Defective or inaccurately labeled products that fail to perform can result in a claim for product liability. Examples of such products include:
- Motor vehicles
- Other vessels
- Tires and auto parts
- Drugs and pharmaceuticals
- Medical devices
- Hip implants
- Hernia mesh
- Children’s toys
- Car seats
- Cribs and strollers
- Consumer electronics
- Household appliances
- Food and beverages
- Skincare products
- Hair care products
- Industrial equipment
- Household chemicals
What to Do If You’ve Been Harmed by a Dangerous or Defective Product
If a dangerous or defective product injures you, it’s important to follow these steps:
- Seek Medical Attention – Not only is this vital for your health, but medical records and doctor’s notes could also serve as key evidence if you choose to file a claim.
- Preserve the Product – If possible, keep the product in its current state. Don’t attempt to fix or alter it. This is important because the product itself is often the best evidence of its defect.
- Document the Incident – Write down everything you recall about the incident while your memory is fresh. Include details about when and where it happened, how you used the product, and what happened when you got hurt.
- Gather Evidence – In addition to preserving the product, gather other evidence relevant to your claim, such as instruction manuals, packaging, receipts, or photographs.
- Notify the Manufacturer and Seller – Report the incident to the product’s manufacturer and seller. You might also want to notify the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
- Consult an Attorney – If you’re considering filing a claim or a lawsuit, contact our experienced product liability lawyer in Bakersfield who can guide you through the system and demand the money you deserve.
- Keep a Record of Expenses – Keep detailed records of any expenses you incur due to your product-related injuries, such as medical bills, lost income, and other related costs.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Your Injuries?
In a California product liability claim, several parties in the chain of product distribution could potentially be liable for harmful defects, including:
- Product Manufacturers – The party that designs or produces the product. This could include a large corporation, a small business, or even an individual who makes products at home.
- Component Manufacturers – Some products are made up of various components made by different companies. A company that manufactured a defective part could be liable in cases involving such products.
- Assemblers or Installers – If a product is assembled or installed incorrectly and contributes to a defect or injury, the party that installed or put it together could be liable.
- Wholesalers – Wholesalers are intermediaries between manufacturers and retailers. They don’t make or sell products directly, but they are part of product distribution chains and could be liable in certain circumstances.
- Retailers – Stores or individuals that sell products directly to consumers. Even though retailers do not manufacture products, they can still be liable for selling defective items.
The law is very complicated in this area, and therefore you need a professional who can look at your case and determine if you have a claim.
Compensation in Defective or Dangerous Product Lawsuits
In a defective or dangerous product case in California, you could recover money for several types of personal and financial losses, such as:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Future medical care
- Lost income
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Property damage costs
California Laws Regarding Defective Products
Product liability laws in California govern the rules and regulations regarding compensation claims on behalf of consumers who get hurt due to defective or dangerous products. They are largely based on common law principles and court precedents rather than specific statutes in the California Code. The following are key aspects of California’s product liability law:
Strict Liability in Product Liability Cases
In a product liability case, strict liability means a manufacturer can be liable for injuries arising from a defective product even if it was not negligent.
Types of Product Defects
California courts recognize three types of defects for which manufacturers can be strictly liable:
- Design Defects – Design defects arise when a product’s fundamental design is inherently dangerous, no matter how well it is manufactured. Courts have previously ruled that a product may be considered defective in design if it doesn’t perform as safely as an everyday consumer would expect or if the benefits of its design do not outweigh the risks.
- Manufacturing defects – A manufacturing defect arises when a product isn’t manufactured as intended, and the deviation from its intended design causes harm. Per California case law, manufacturers are strictly liable when they place products on the market, knowing the products will be used without inspection and that the items have defects in their manufacture that could cause injuries.
- Warning defects – A warning defect case arises when a manufacturer fails to provide appropriate warning labels or instructions about a product’s known risks. The courts have established that manufacturers’ duty to warn consumers is fundamental to product design and construction.
Safe Design for ‘Reasonably Foreseeable’ Use
In California, each manufacturer is responsible for designing its products to be safe for use in “reasonably foreseeable” ways. This principle comes from the court’s ruling in Barker v. Lull Engineering Co., which held that a product is defective if it doesn’t perform as safely as an ordinary person would expect while using it in an intended or reasonably foreseeable manner.
What to Expect in a Product Liability Lawsuit
Product liability cases are complex and time-consuming. The rules in product liability cases are very complicated, and depending on what type of product — for example, medicines or pesticides — the rules are even more complex. You need a sophisticated attorney who understands the complexities of the law to evaluate your case.
If there might be a case, Plaintiffs must gather evidence to prove their cases; there could be numerous legal and procedural challenges along the way. They will also face pushback from manufacturers or sellers (defendants), who could use various defenses to avoid liability. Here are a few possible defenses that a manufacturer or seller might use in a product liability case:
- The product was not defective and met all relevant safety standards.
- You used the product in a way that wasn’t intended or reasonably foreseeable.
- You knew the risks of using the product, ignored them, and got hurt as a result.
- You were partially or entirely at fault for your own injury.
- You or a third party altered or modified the product after purchase.
- You waited too long, and your case is time-barred under California’s statute of limitations.
Given these complexities, hiring our experienced product liability lawyer in Bakersfield to handle your case from start to finish is highly advisable. Your attorney can explain the legal principles involved in your case, develop a legal strategy to counter any defenses, and advocate on your behalf in negotiations or at trial.
How Our Bakersfield Product Liability Attorney Can Help with Your Case
A product liability lawyer in Bakersfield, California, could help you with your case by:
- Analyzing your case thoroughly, identifying potentially liable parties, and whether the law permits a case under the circumstances.
- Preparing and filing your product liability claim.
- Gathering and presenting evidence to support your case.
- Negotiating with insurance companies and other parties for a fair settlement.
- Standing up to large corporations and manufacturers on your behalf.
- Taking your case to court if the other side won’t agree to a fair settlement.
- Protecting your rights throughout the legal process.
- Giving you peace of mind so you can focus on recovery.
- Working relentlessly every step of the way to maximize your compensation.