When you purchase a product, food or medicine, you have a right to expect that it is safe to use. Unfortunately, millions of people are injured and thousands are killed by defective products every year.
Defective products and the injuries they cause are handled under product liability law. For more than 50 years, the defective product lawyers at the Frickey Law Firm have been helping injured Coloradans get the compensation they deserve.
If you or a loved one has been hurt by a defective product, you have a right to hold those responsible accountable for your injuries. Call us to schedule your no-cost consultation at 303-237-7373.
What Makes a Product Defective?
A product is defective when it doesn’t do what it was manufactured or designed to do. The flaw can range from something simple, like a loose part on a children’s toy, to something complex, like a medication that increases the risk of heart attack.
Product liability claims typically fall into one of three categories:
- Design Defects – These flaws occur as the product is being designed and before it is manufactured.
- Manufacturing Defects – Problems during production, like contamination or manufacturing errors, can cause major defects. These can affect a few isolated products or the entire batch. The product’s original design is used to prove manufacturer defects in product liability claims.
- Marketing Defects – Misleading, incorrect or insufficient labeling, instructions or safety warnings cause consumers to use products incorrectly and put them at risk for injury or death.
Who Is Responsible in a Product Liability Case?
Depending on the circumstances, and which category the defective product falls into, there may be several entities responsible for injuries caused by defective products. Liable parties often include:
- Retail stores/sellers
- Repair facilities
Examples of Defective Products
Almost any product can be defective. Government agencies like the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issue thousands of recalls each year to protect the public from dangerous products.
Some of the most common defective products seen in product liability lawsuits include:
- Medications/medical devices
- Vehicles/vehicle parts
- Construction/manufacturing equipment and tools
- Food products
- Children’s products/toys
- Household appliances/electronics
- Chemicals/cleaning products
Proving Liability after a Defective Product Injury
To establish responsibility in a product liability case, you must be able to prove the following:
- You were using the product as it was intended to be used
- You lost money or were injured as a result of using the product
- The product possessed a design, manufacturing and/or marketing defect
- That defect caused your injury
Strict Liability vs. Negligence
Product liability lawsuits typically fall into one of two categories: negligence and strict liability.
Strict liability comes into play when there is an inherent issue with the product. The manufacturer, retailer, etc., may have done all they could to warn consumers of the potential for danger, but they can still be held strictly liable for injuries that occurred. If the judge in your case accepts strict liability standards, you will not have to prove negligence.
Negligence is when a manufacturer, designer, or retailer acted recklessly or carelessly. These entities have a responsibility to provide consumers with products that are safe to use. For instance, if a car company knows that some of the cars they produced have an issue that causes the brakes to stop working, their duty is to warn consumers. If they don’t issue an appropriate warning and a consumer is harmed, that person can sue for monetary damages. If negligence can be proven, the judge may require the at-fault party to pay punitive damages as a form of punishment and means of discouraging the negligent behavior.
Compensation for Your Injuries
If you or a loved one was hurt by a defective product, a product liability attorney may be able to help you get compensation for:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Property loss
- Emotional distress
- Funeral and burial expenses in the event of wrongful death
How much money you’re awarded depends on whether your own negligence was a factor in the accident. Under Colorado’s pure comparative negligence rule, the damages you can recover are based on your percentage of fault. For example, if you are 50 percent at fault and the judge awards $1 million in damages, you’ll only be entitled to $500,000 of the award.
What to Do After a Defective Product Injury
If you are injured by a product, the following tips can help keep you safe and preserve your case:
- If the product is actively dangerous (on fire, electrical short, etc.) call 911 and get to safety as soon as possible.
- Go to the doctor immediately. Whether you are able to see your family physician or need to go to the emergency room, it is critical that you seek medical treatment ASAP after a defective product injury.
- Keep a journal so you can take notes about what happened and record how, when, and where the injury occurred.
- Take pictures of the product and your injuries.
- Keep all of your medical information. This include receipts, bills and prescription orders, as well as notes about how often you’ve seen the doctor and how much time away from work the injury has caused you to take.
- Keep your receipt and the product packaging, as these items may be useful in your case.
- It is critical that you keep the product and store it in a safe place. The product that caused the injury is one of the best forms of evidence you can have. If you can’t store the product or you’ve already disposed of it, the product liability lawyers at the Frickey Law Firm may be able to help you store the product safely or find a similar one to use in your case.
Can I Sue if I Was Injured by a Defective Product?
If you are injured by a defective or dangerous product, the manufacturer, designer, or seller of that product may be held liable for your injuries. In the United States, there are three basic types of product liability laws: strict liability, negligence, and warranty law. These federal and state laws protect consumers from unsafe products in an effort to prevent injuries and accidents.
How Can a Product Liability Lawyer Help Me?
Product liability laws can be extremely complex, and they can vary significantly from state to state. A product liability lawyer, such as the team at The Frickey Law Firm, will have the knowledge and experience necessary to navigate these complex legal rules. Additionally, our attorneys can help you build your case by gathering evidence that shows that the product was defective and/or dangerous when it left the hands of the manufacturer.
Product liability lawyers typically work on a contingency basis, meaning they do not get paid unless they win your case. This is because the manufacturer or other responsible party should be required to compensate you for any injuries that may have been caused by their negligence. Our lawyers at The Frickey Law Firm of Lakewood, CO, will fight to get you the compensation that you need and are entitled to under the law.
What Are Unavoidably Unsafe Products?
One factor that is considered in a product liability case is whether or not the product was unavoidably safe. This doesn't mean that the use of product is dangerous, but that the product is actually incapable of being made safe for the intended use. Four criteria that the court will consider to determine if a product can be referred to as unavoidably safe include:
- The method of preparation of the product
- How the product was marketed to the general public
- The use of the product compared to its potential risks
- Whether or not other alternative options are available
These products differ specifically from defective products because using them poses challenges and needs to have hazards or side effects posted on the product label or packaging. Some examples of unavoidably unsafe products include guns, cleaning solutions, knives, and pharmaceuticals.
How Many People Are Injured by Defective Products Each Year?
According to the National Safety Council organization, (nsc.org), approximately 11.7 million individuals were treated in emergency rooms for injuries resulting from the use of consumer products. Many involved products are deemed safe for use, such as household cleaning products, beds, and televisions. Not all of these are specifically from defective products, and estimates may be off due to injuries sustained that may have been treated at home. Regardless, the knowledge that defective products can injure or even kill individuals requires companies to be extremely well-versed in product liability and work with the right attorney for protection against any possible lawsuits that may arise. Individuals can work with a professional to determine if their situation can provide the basis for a lawsuit against an organization or company that knowingly developed a defective product.
Contact a Denver Product Liability Attorney
Product liability lawsuits can become complicated quickly. The party or parties responsible for your injuries may try to claim they’re not liable because you modified or altered the product after purchasing it. Another common tactic negligent manufacturers, retailers, etc., use is accusing you of misusing the product or using it despite knowing that it was defective.
In most personal injury cases, there is a statute of limitations which limits the amount of time you have to file a claim. In Colorado, the statute of limitations for product liability lawsuits is typically two years from the date the incident occurred. In some instances, Colorado’s discovery rule may extend that time frame.
Consulting with an attorney can give you a better idea of how much time you have and allow them to start on your case as soon as possible. The Denver product liability attorneys at the Frickey Law Firm have over 120 years of combined experience helping Coloradans who have been injured by faulty products get the compensation they deserve.
We’ll work to figure out what you’re entitled to and fight until you get the compensation you need to get back on your feet. For service in Lakewood, Denver, Boulder and all over Colorado's Front Range, please call the Frickey Law Firm at 303-237-7373 for a complimentary review of your case.