What is Product Liability?
Everyday, we see new products that we hope will add something to our lives or make it a little easier. Sometimes, those products do exactly what we want them to, but other times the products do not work as we expected. When products do not work as they should, they can injure their consumers. When this happens, a product liability lawsuit may provide a proper remedy for those injuries.
Product liability law helps determine who is responsible for defective or dangerous products that are put on the market. Product liability law usually holds a manufacturer or seller liable for placing a defective product into the hands of a consumer. Products are expected to live up to the “ordinary expectation of the consumer.” What the ordinary expectation of the consumer should be depends on the product, warning labels, what state law requires, and many other factors an attorney can help you look at to determine the merit of your product liability claim.
Determining the right party to sue can be difficult in product liability cases because the liability for a product defect could rest with any party in the product’s chain of distribution. This chain includes the product manufacturer, manufacturers of component parts, parties that assemble or install the product, the wholesaler, and the retail store that sold the product to the consumer. Product liability cases can include incidents of personal injury and property damage.
Types of Product Defects
In order to have a successful product liability case, you have to be able to show that the product that caused injury was defective and that the defect made the product unreasonably dangerous. There are three types of defects that a product liability case can usually be based on. Design defects are ones that have been present in the product from the beginning even before it was manufactured—an issue with the design of the product itself. With this type of defect, something about the design itself made the product unsafe. Manufacturing defects are defects that happen in the course of manufacturing the product. Marketing defects are things like improper labeling, insufficient instructions, or inadequate safety warnings.
The Louisiana Product Liability Act
The Louisiana Products Liability Act (LPLA) provides the applicable state law regarding manufacturers’ responsibilities and liability. The LPLA applies when a consumer uses a product in a way that is reasonably expected and something about the product makes it unreasonably dangerous when used in the manner expected. Under this Act, in Louisiana, you can hold a manufacturer liable for injuries which are caused by their product if there is a defect:
- In design
- In construction or composition (manufacturing)
- Because of a failure to adequately warn
- Because it does not conform to an express warranty of the manufacturer
These are the types of product defects recognized in Louisiana. These defects can be present in any product created by a manufacturer, including household products, automobiles, and children’s toys. Your claim may be based on a failure to warn because the product was not properly labeled or the product may not have been assembled properly. Design defect claims can be successful if an alternative design that would have prevented your injury existed and the cost of using that design was less than the cost of liability created by the defective design.
Medical Devices and Medicinal Drugs
The Louisiana Products Liability Act (LPLA) covers faulty and defective medical devices too. Manufacturers do have to get FDA approval before selling their medical devices to consumers. However, the FDA is required to review the research of the manufacturer in order to determine a product’s safety and efficacy. This means that the FDA does not independently verify the accuracy and completeness of the research done by the manufacturer. The LPLA also covers dangerous and defective pharmaceutical drugs. The same issue with the FDA not independently verifying the research exists with pharmaceutical drugs. However, the LPLA does not cover vaccine related injuries.
Other Rules You Should Know About
Louisiana has a few other special rules that govern products liability cases. For both personal injury and property damage claims, you have only one year from the date of the injury to file a claim, referred to as the “prescriptive period” in which the suit must be brought. Louisiana also uses something called the “discovery rule,” which means the one year limit does not start ticking down until you know or should reasonably have known about your injury and its connection to the defective product. Louisiana also uses a method for evaluating damages called comparative fault. This means if you were partially to blame for an accident, you may still recover damages, but those damages will be reduced in proportion to your fault. If you were partially at fault, then a $100,000 award will be reduced by $80,000 if you were found to be eighty percent at fault. Louisiana also does not follow the economic loss rule, which means you can pursue a case even if all you lost was the product.
Successful Product Liability Case
Product liability claims are usually based on state laws and brought under the theories of negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty. Additionally, a set of commercial statutes in each state will contain warranty rules affecting product liability. Plaintiffs do have an advantage in product liability lawsuits. The doctrine, known as “res ipsa loquitur,” shifts the burden of proof in some product liability cases to the defendant. The phrase means “the thing speaks for itself,” and it stands for the idea that the defect at issue would not exist unless someone was negligent. This means that it is on the defendant to show that they were not negligent. Defendants can argue that the product was modified in an unforeseeable way after it left their control, or that unforeseeable misuse of the product was the sole cause of the damage. In some cases, the manufacturer can argue that at the time the product was put on the market their scientific or technical knowledge meant they couldn’t have known about the danger. This is why it is important to have a knowledgeable personal injury attorney working for you, so that they can shield you from blame and make sure the proper defendant is held responsible for the injuries caused.
If you or a family member was injured by a defective product, you should immediately contact an attorney who is experienced in handling these types of cases. Product liability is complicated, and you need an attorney you trust to help you navigate your case. Contact Cueria Law Firm L.L.C. today.
Our attorneys have helped hundreds of injury victims get the fair compensation they deserve so they can get back to their lives and their families. Give Cueria Law Firm a call at (504)-525-5211 today!