Using products of all types is part of everyday life. We assume the manufactures and sellers ensured the products are safe to use. We rarely stop and consider whether the products are safe—that is until someone gets hurt.
If a dangerous or defective product injured you or a loved one, you may have a claim for compensation under product liability law. Compensation is available when a defective product causes an injury. You have two years from the date of injury to bring a claim under a defective product theory. The Colorado Springs defective product lawyers at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. can help you explore your options as you move forward.
What Is Product Liability?
Product liability is a legal doctrine that entitles you to compensation if a defective product caused an injury. Product liability claims hold liable parties accountable for the harm their products cause. Examples of products that commonly result in defective product claims include:
- Auto products,
- Toys and children’s products,
- Home appliances,
- Contaminated or unsafe food,
- Chemicals in consumer items,
- Equipment and power tools, and
- Prescription drugs and medical devices.
Product liability actions apply to any defective product that causes harm.
Types of Defective Product Claims
Most defective product claims in Colorado are strict liability claims. Negligence and breach of warranty are other defective product claims. Your attorney will frame your legal strategy based on which theories are most applicable to your case.
Strict liability imposes liability without proof of actual negligence or the intent to cause harm. What matters is that the action occurred and the plaintiff sustained an injury.
Strict liability is available for three common causes of product defects: (1) manufacturing defects, (2) design defects, and (3) failure to warn.
In general, to prevail on a strict product liability claim, a plaintiff must prove:
- The defendant designed, manufactured, distributed, or sold the defective product;
- The product contained the defect when it left the defendant’s possession;
- The plaintiff used the product in a reasonably foreseeable manner; and
- The plaintiff suffered harm as a result of the defect.
“Reasonably foreseeable” requires the manufacturer to anticipate a consumer’s product use. Manufacturers are not expected to anticipate every single possibility.
A manufacturing defect claim alleges a product deviated from the manufacturer’s specifications for the item. The deviation must render the product defective. The plaintiff must prove that the product deviated from the product’s design and caused an accident.
A design defect claim alleges that a product’s design caused the product to be defective. The plaintiff must prove that the design caused the user’s injury. Colorado has two tests to determine whether a product’s design is unreasonably dangerous. The proper test in a particular case depends on the product defect alleged.
The first test is the consumer expectations test. A plaintiff may use this test if an ordinary everyday user could conclude that the product failed to perform as expected.
The second test is Colorado’s risk-benefit test. Under the risk-benefit test, the court examines whether the benefits of a particular design outweigh the risks of harm. Courts use this test in design-defect cases involving technical, complex product designs.
Failure to warn
For a failure to warn claim, a plaintiff must prove the defendant distributed or sold the product without sufficient warnings. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant failed to adequately warn of a known risk. The manufacturer is not responsible under a failure to warn theory when the consumer fails to read the instructions.
Breach of Warranty
When a product fails to fulfill the intended purpose, a plaintiff may bring a breach of warranty claim. The purpose can be expressly stated or implied. Breach of warranty claims are governed by statute and apply to the sale of goods. Breach of warning claims include:
- A breach of express warranty,
- An implied warranty of merchantability; and
- An implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose.
A plaintiff cannot recover if the injury results from improper use of the product.
Negligence actions for product liability include negligent manufacture, design, and warning. A plaintiff must prove all elements of a general negligence case. These elements include duty, breach, causation, and damages. A negligence claim for product liability alleges that the defendant failed to use reasonable care in making their products. A product liability negligence claim also alleges that the defendant’s failure resulted in injury or death.
Who Is liable If a Product Is Defective?
An injured person can bring a product liability action against a person or company who designs, manufactures, or sells a defective product. The victim can bring a product liability action, regardless of the legal theory. The most common defendants in product liability actions include:
- Product manufacturers,
- Component parts manufacturers,
- Wholesalers of the product,
- Product designers,
- Suppliers of materials, and
- Retail stores.
Which party may be liable for damages depends on the circumstances. The scope of liability also depends on the legal theory at issue for the claim.
What Damages Are Recoverable for Defective Product Claims?
An injured person could recover both economic and non-economic damages as the result of a defective product lawsuit. Economic damages include:
- Medical bills,
- Future medical bills,
- Property damage,
- Lost wages, and
- Lost earning capacity.
Non-economic damages are those which are not typical out-of-pocket expenses. Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering,
- Emotional distress,
- Emotional distress, and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
Punitive damages may also be available in limited circumstances. Punitive damages punish those who willfully allow the defective product into the marketplace. Punitive damages are also intended to serve as a powerful deterrent. They seek to influence future actions by other companies.
Consult with a Colorado Product Liability Lawyer
If a defective product injured you, the Colorado Springs defective product attorneys at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. can help. We handle serious injury cases. Our firm provides individual attention to each client we serve. We are not a volume firm and handle only a limited number of cases at a time. This allows us to provide individual attention to your case. After all, the damages you have are unique to you. With over 75 years of combined experience, we have a track record of success. We will pursue those responsible for your injuries and position you to get the compensation you deserve.
Contact us online or call today to schedule a consultation.