A product liability case is generally based on an injury you sustain from using a bad commercial product. Many types of incidents involving such products can result in products liability lawsuits. For example, you may have a case if a product breaks or catches fire, thereby injuring you. Product liability cases can arise if a chemical or drug hurts you or makes you sick. Finally, if a manufacturer knows of a product’s risk and that it is not obvious to a user, you can hold the manufacturer liable if they did not warn of the risk. Here’s more on how product liability works in Georgia, including what you could do if you or your loved one were injured.
In a garden-variety personal injury case, you must prove that the defendant acted negligently. That means a person did not take the precautions that a reasonable person would.
Products liability cases impose what is called strict liability if a product is unreasonably dangerous. Under strict products liability, you can receive compensation if you can prove that the product was defective; that the defect existed when the product left the manufacturer’s control; and that you were injured because of that defect.
Types Of Defects
A product may be dangerous due to either a manufacturing defect or a design defect. A manufacturing defect arises if a product was somehow made inconsistent with the design, and that failure to make it as designed created the danger. For instance, a metal part that was miscast so that it breaks easily carries a manufacturing defect.
If the product was made as designed but includes some feature that creates a danger, that’s a design defect. An example would be a car part that, as designed, corrodes easily and breaks. You can also bring a design defect claim if the product should have included a safety device that would have prevented the accident or reduced the chance of serious injury.
What Damages Can Be Compensated?
If you are injured due to an accident involving a product or exposure to a product, you may be able to recover damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost income for time off work. You can also recover for damage to property that might have resulted. In the case of serious long-term injuries, you can also recover from projected future expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
It’s also possible to recover if your spouse was injured. If your spouse’s injuries were severe, you might be able to recover from the loss of affection or companionship. And if a defective product killed a family member, you could initiate a wrongful death suit.
Your recovery of damages can be reduced or barred if you contributed to some part of the accident. The jury will be instructed to apportion the fault for the accident. If the jury finds that your negligence was less than 50% of the cause of the accident, you can recover damages, but the percentage of your fault will reduce them. If you were more than 50% responsible, then you cannot recover damages.
Finally, if you can prove that the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious, then you may be able to recover punitive damages. A defendant can be forced to pay punitive damages only one time for a particular action, so you can only be awarded such damages if you are the first to win an argument for them regarding the product that injured you. If you receive an award of punitive damages, the state takes 75% of the award.
Who Is Liable?
In many states, if you were pursuing a strict products liability claim, you could sue each entity that takes part in bringing the defective product to market. That includes the manufacturer, wholesaler, and retailer. Under Georgia law, only a manufacturer is liable. Georgia law explicitly states that a “product seller” is not liable and defines a “product seller” broadly to include businesses that install products or assemble them per the manufacturer’s instructions. In short, you can only sue manufacturers for strict products liability.
Also, you must be able to identify the manufacturer of the product that injured you. If you were injured as a result of taking a generic drug, but you did not know which manufacturer made it, then you may have to sue all the manufacturers of that drug and assess damages to each based on the percentage share of the market they had at the time you bought the drug. However, Georgia statutes explicitly exclude this kind of market share liability.
The statute of limitations or time limit for filing a products liability action is two years after the accident for injuries to a person and four years for property damage.
In addition to the statute of limitations, Georgia has what is called a statute of repose. This limits the ability to bring a lawsuit based on how old the product was at the time of the accident. Under Georgia law, no one can bring a lawsuit for product liability if the accident happens more than ten years from when the product that caused the injury was first sold. That limitation applies to both strict liability and negligence. It does not apply if the plaintiff can prove that a manufacturer’s actions were willful or reckless, showing an utter disregard for life or property. It also does not apply if the suit alleges negligence that results in a product that causes disease or birth defects.
Finally, the statute of repose still allows claims of failure to warn of a danger that the manufacturer was aware of.
Georgia Defective Products Lawyer
To learn more about the types of defective products claims and what you’ll want to do to help ensure that you succeed in obtaining compensation in your products liability lawsuit, reach out to a Georgia defective products attorney. Each case is different. Your attorney can assess your case and potential defenses that the manufacturer or seller of the product might claim. The products liability attorneys at Dozier Law know how to hold companies responsible for putting bad products on the market. We will work rigorously on your behalf to see that they compensate you for the harm that you have suffered from a product-based injury. Get in touch with Dozier Law by calling (888) 239-2129 or contacting us online to talk with an experienced Georgia defective product lawyer about your case.