Companies that sell their products in the state of Washington have a responsibility to make sure that they are reasonably safe for those who buy their products. When companies fail to meet this responsibility, they can be held liable for that failure. Defective or dangerous products cause thousands of injuries every year throughout the country and in our home state.
Product liability is an area of personal injury law that ensures companies, distributors, manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers are held responsible when their products cause an injury. If you or someone you love has been injured by a defective or dangerous product, experienced Washington attorney Quinn Posner of Quinn Posner Law Office, P.C. has the knowledge and skills necessary to obtain the financial compensation you deserve.
What is a Defective Product?
You have a basic right to protection from defective and dangerous products in the market. A defective product is one that bears some imperfection such as a design defect or inadequate instructions or warnings. A product that does not meet the manufacturer's specifications could be unreasonably safe for consumers to use.
When a product is defective and causes injury to you or someone you love, you can file a defective products personal injury lawsuit to obtain financial compensation.
How Do You Know if You Were the Victim of a Defective Product?
In many cases, it is quite obvious that your injury is the result of a defective or faulty product, and in other instances it may not be quite so clear. With the help of an experienced products liability attorney, your case can be analyzed to determine whether your injuries were a result of a manufacturer's, supplier's, or retailer's negligence.
Some common examples of injuries from a defective product include the following.
- Fires, explosions, or burns from a defective space heater.
- Choking or suffocation injuries from children's toys or other items.
- Faulty machinery that resulted in cuts, bone breakage, or loss of limb.
- Defective airbags that caused injuries such as traumatic brain injury or whiplash.
- Defective tires that cause car accidents, motorcycle accidents, or bicycle accidents.
In other cases, an expert can help determine if your injury is a result of a defective product such as:
- Faulty valves that cause a chemical or gas leak.
- Medical device defects that lead to injury, chronic pain, or a longer healing time.
- Severe allergic reaction due to a failure to properly label food or other product.
- Defective prescription or over-the-counter medicines that lead to injury.
The Washington Products Liability Act
The Washington Products Liability Act, written in Wash. Rev. Code § 7.72, lays out the legal rules which concern responsibility for the manufacture and sale of dangerous or defective products to Washington consumers. The act, enacted by the Washington legislature in 1981, was written in order to create a uniform system to protect the state's citizens from defective products and irresponsible manufacturer behavior.
There are different theories of liability under the law. Each of the legal theories available must be analyzed to see if it applies to your specific facts and circumstances.
- Consumer Expectations Standard - A manufacturer's product is not sufficiently safe if it would not be considered safe by an ordinary consumer. Under this theory of liability, a plaintiff does not necessarily have to prove that another alternative product design was available.
- Risk Utility Formula - The "risk-utility test" is one method used to determine if the design of a product is defective. A plaintiff must prove to a Washington court that the chance of an injury multiplied by the seriousness of any potential consumer injury is more costly than it would be for the company to use another product design.
- Breach of Express or Implied Warranty - If a product was sold with a warranty, and a Washington consumer was harmed as a result of that breach of warranty, the company can be held strictly liable for the consumer's damages.
- Inadequate Instructions or Warnings - Products sold in the state are required to have adequate warning labels and proper safety instructions. Besides the initial requirement to ensure these adequate warnings, if a manufacturer learns of a risk associated with its product it must take measures to ensure consumer protection, such as a recall or public notice changing advised use.
Understanding these legal theories and the methods of proof associated with them are complex, but with the help of a knowledgeable attorney you can make your case and protect your rights.
Automobiles and other motor vehicles are commonly defective and all too often dangerous products that can cause you serious injury. They may even have taken the life of someone you love. In many cases, when a car manufacturer learns of a defective product, they initiate a recall. However, in some cases companies know a risk exists and do nothing.
Poor vehicle design, faulty parts, or improper assembly may contribute to considerable injury or even death. Defective automobile cases include:
- Gas tank explosions,
- Brake defects,
- Uncontrolled acceleration,
- Rollover accidents,
- Passenger ejection,
- Malfunctioning seatbelt injuries,
- Defective or dangerous doors and door handles, and
- Exploding airbags.
Quinn Posner is well familiar with the injuries which can result from an automobile accident. With proper investigation, those injuries may be linked to an automobile defect and a products liability lawsuit could compensate you for your injuries.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for a Defective Product?
There are a number of different parties which can be held responsible for your injuries as the result of a defective or dangerous product. These include:
- Manufacturers - Those who originally designed, developed, and created the product which caused your injury may be responsible for it.
- Retailers - Those companies that sold the defective product, even if they did not design it or know that it was defective, can be held responsible for selling it to you.
- Resellers - Companies, or less commonly individuals, that "resell" a defective product can be financially responsible for your injuries.
- Stream of Commerce - Any seller, "middle-man," or supplier who placed the defective product in the chain or "stream" of commerce may also be held responsible along with the other parties.
In a products liability case, there are many individuals or companies which should be named in your lawsuit. It is nearly impossible to name them all properly without the help of an investigation by an experienced attorney. Quinn Posner can help.
Proving Your Case
Proving that a product was defective and the cause of your injury can be difficult, and manufacturers of those products will fight hard to show that their products are safe. They will attempt to show that their product is statistically safe, or that your injury was not a result of their product. Just because a product is safe for many others, does not mean it was safe in your case.
In certain instances, manufacturers and other responsible parties may be held to a strict liability standard, meaning the responsible party is liable regardless of whether they were negligent. The proof involved in your case will usually involve expert testimony and complex analysis of product safety. While it can be a lot of work, you deserve compensation for your injuries, and the right lawyer can make this happen.
What Compensation Can I Receive?
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could be entitled to financial compensation in the form of:
- Hospital bills,
- Other medical expenses,
- Future medical expenses,
- Long-term disability expenses,
- Lost wages, future wages, or loss of earning capacity damages,
- Pain and suffering, and/or
- Wrongful death.
The best way to prove your damages is with clear records. Keep copies of all bills, costs, invoices, treatment records, or anything else connected to your injury. Anything and everything could be important.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a time period in which you must file your case or it is lost. If you file your lawsuit after the statute of limitations period has passed your case will almost certainly be thrown out. As a result, you could lose the opportunity for compensation for your injuries, even if your case would otherwise succeed.
In Washington, the statute of limitations for a products liability case is three years, with limited exceptions. One exception is the "discovery rule," in which a plaintiff may be able to sue within three years after discovering that an issue exists. However, do not assume this exception applies or wait to contact an attorney. Whether an exception applies is complex and based on specific facts.
The best and universal advice is, do not wait. Contact experienced products liability attorney Quinn Posner as early as possible. Cases such as these can take time to properly prepare, so the earlier you bring your case in the better your chances can be at a successful lawsuit.
Consult a Washington Personal Injury Attorney
If you have suffered injuries as the result of a product defect or breach of warranty, you need an experienced attorney who understands the personal injury process and how to effectively prove that a manufacturer, supplier, or retailer is responsible for your injuries. You may be entitled to significant financial compensation.
Experienced products liability attorney Quinn Posner represents clients in Camas, Washougal, Vancouver, and the rest of Clark County. Contact Quinn Posner today to schedule a free consultation.