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In a country that runs on consumer goods, it’s no surprise that mistakes happen. There are federal laws in place to regulate the production and distribution of goods, but it’s not always enough to ensure the safety of the products that reach consumers’ hands. Thousands of unsuspecting buyers have suffered serious injuries, illnesses, and wrongful death because of defective products.
If you or a loved one has been injured because of a dangerous or defective product, come to Panish Shea & Boyle LLP for a free consultation.
What is Product Liability?
Product liability refers to holding a manufacturer or seller liable – or responsible – for placing a dangerous or defective product in the hands of consumers. The laws governing product liable are different than those of general personal injury law, so hiring a firm with experience in the area is key. There is no federal product liability law, therefore each state has there own set of consumer protections that cover negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty of manufacturers and sellers.
Product Liability Laws in California
In California, there are two main legal theories one can base a product liability lawsuit upon negligence and strict liability. A suit on the grounds of negligence requires the injured party, or plaintiff, to prove the defendant’s negligence in the creation or manufacture of the product in question. Negligence is any act or failure to act that causes the individual or company to breach its duties of care to consumers. For example, the company may have been negligent in its training procedures, manufacturing regulations, or safety protocols, resulting in a defective product.
Strict liability laws allow an injured party to sue for damages without having to prove the manufacturer’s negligence. Regardless of whether the defendant was negligent in the creation of the good, it will be liable for damages that a defective product causes if it has one of the three main types of defects: inherent design flaws, manufacturing errors, or marketing defects. Design flaws are mistakes the company makes in the design of the item, such as an electronic children’s toy that catches on fire when left out in the sun.
Manufacturing errors describe mistakes that make an otherwise safe item dangerous. For example, a swing that comes off of the assembly line missing a link. Manufacturing mistakes during any phase of the process can result in an unreasonably dangerous product. A marketing defect is a failure to warn of known hazards. If the company knows or reasonably should have known about a hazard the item poses, it has a duty to warn consumers. Failure to do so, resulting in consumer injury, is grounds for a strict liability lawsuit. Strict liability laws are in place to protect consumers from goods that are dangerous due to defects.
Types of Dangerous Product Defects
Marketing Defects – If the product was labeled improperly or does not contain adequate safety warnings or instructions it may have a marketing defect.
Design Defects – If something in the design of the product is dangerous or unsafe it may have a design defect.
Manufacturing Defects – If the product has a flaw or defect that is not in the design, but occurred during manufacturing or assembly, it may have a manufacturing defect.
Suing a Manufacturer or Distributor
If you suffered an injury due to a defective household appliance, consumer good, children’s toy, vehicle part, medical device, or medication, you are not alone. There have been thousands of lawsuits against manufacturers over the years because of defective and dangerous items hitting the shelves. You may have the right to take legal action against the party that manufactured or sold the product that caused your injuries. A Los Angeles personal injury attorney from our law firm can help you hold a product manufacturer responsible for your injuries.
Who is Responsible for Dangerous Products in Los Angeles?
When a dangerous product defect is present, the manufacturer or seller is and should be held responsible. In certain cases, it is up to the manufacturer to prove that they were not negligent in producing a defective product, in others – strict liability cases – proving negligence is not required, only that the product was defective.
Our firm’s attorneys have been recognized many times for their assertive, hard-hitting consumer work and for recovering significant damages. Of particular note is Brian Panish’s role as lead counsel in a 1999 product liability case against General Motors. Panish helped win $4.9 billion — the largest product liability verdict ever won in the United States — for two adults and four children who were injured by a defective fuel system in their Chevrolet Malibu. At trial, it was discovered that GM knew about the defects but had decided that it was cheaper to settle lawsuits than fix the problem. For his work on the case, Panish was recognized in 1999 as Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles.
Another major product liability case handled by the firm’s attorneys was Lampe v. Continental Tire, in which a defective tire’s tread separated on the road, causing an accident that left a woman paraplegic. Adam Shea and Brian Panish won more than $55 million for the plaintiff — the largest tire-defect jury verdict in American history.
Other notable product-defect cases by the firm include:
- Roes v. Doe Auto Manufacturer: confidential multimillion-dollar settlement on behalf of a family involved in the on-road rollover of a sport utility vehicle. The case focused on the absence of electronic stability control (ESC) and the defective roof. Reconstruction of the accident showed that the rollover would have been prevented if the vehicle was equipped with electronic stability control. Information developed during the lawsuit showed that the electronic stability control (ESC) had been offered by the vehicle manufacturer for many years, but despite its proven safety benefit, the manufacturer chose to make this safety system optional equipment on the SUV.
- Doe v. Manufacturer, a case where a fuel-fed fire killed or severely burned occupants of a 15-passenger van that rolled over because of design flaws. The case ended with a major, confidential settlement.
- Beltran v. Boeing et al, in which defective parts caused a catastrophic crash of an Army helicopter over Iraq, injuring two maintenance officers. Settlements to date total $13.65 million.
The firm’s Los Angeles product liability attorneys are consistently recognized for their work in consumer law, including several leadership roles in major nationwide consumer litigation, and repeated nominations for national lists of the nation’s biggest verdicts and most influential trial lawyers. Panish has won the American Jurisprudence Award in Product Liability, among other fields. They also represent clients in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, and across Southern California.
Our Los Angeles Defective Product Attorney Verdicts & Settlements
- Anderson v. General Motors $4,907,632,000
- LA County v. Tobacco Industry $3,300,000,000
- Griggs v. Caterpillar, et al. $58,137,361
Joseph B. Griggs sued West-Pac Industries after the Caterpillar scraper he was operating burst into flames resulting in third-degree burns over 75% of his body. Attorney Brian Panish argued that the fire was due to a defective mechanical product in the hydraulic system of the construction vehicle. A jury agreed, awarding Griggs $58,137,361.
- Lampe v. Continental General Tire $55,600,000
- Barber v. Mossy Ford $22,765,864
- Wu v. Singapore Airlines $15,000,000
Wrongful Death Verdict in the crash of Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-400 which attempted to take off on a closed runway during Typhoon Xangsane, the plane crashed and the fuselage broke into three sections, killing 82 people and injuring 169 others. Only one case from the crash was tried to a jury verdict, and that family was represented by Brian Panish and Kevin Boyle.
- Beltran v. Boeing, et al. $13,550,000
Largest known settlement for military personnel injured during the war in Iraq awarded to Juan Beltran and Ron Carns for injuries they received. Beltran was represented by Kevin Boyle and was awarded $11,247,500 for injuries he suffered in a helicopter crash in Iraq which left him paralyzed.
- Hernandez v. Doe Heater Manufacturer $3,700,000
- Pineda v. Kubota Tractor Co. $1,500,000
Our Los Angeles Product Liability Attorneys offer free consultations!
Many claims dealing with car accidents, workplace injuries, and other common accidents also involve defective products. Working with a lawyer can help you understand whether or not you have a product liability claim. The Los Angeles product liability lawyers at Panish Shea & Boyle LLP have won significant million and billion-dollar settlements on behalf of clients in California, including the largest personal injury verdict in history.
Call us in Santa Monica at (310) 477-1700 or dial toll- free (888) 498-6487 to discuss your potential claim with our experienced product liability lawyers today!