San Jose Product Liability Lawyer
Each day, and in every imaginable setting, Californians rely on consumer products to do their jobs and improve their lives. The vast majority of those consumer products are used under normal circumstances, and work the way they are intended. However, there are exceptions.
Defective products may enter the stream of commerce, and these products do not work the way they are supposed to. The cost of these defective products may be limited to the expense and hassle of replacing or fixing them, or they may have more lasting and devastating consequences. For example, when a car tire of substandard material blows out at highway speeds, a toddler is exposed to toxic chemicals from a toy, or a power tool lacks adequate warnings regarding safe use, people may be severely injured or even die.
When the worst happens, victims of product liability need an experienced lawyer who will fight for their rights and recover damages from the liable parties—which may include manufacturers, distributors, and retailers—regardless of how large or powerful those parties might be.
The attorneys at Bohn & Fletcher fearlessly represent Californians suffering from injuries and wrongful death caused by defective consumer products. If you have been injured, contact us at (408) 279-4222 or online today and schedule a free consultation to learn if we may be able to help you.
About Product Liability Law
“Product liability” is a legal term and refers to laws that control in instances of defective and dangerous products. Product liability cases may be different from ordinary negligence cases.
Under California law, a product is “defective” if it is not reasonably safe for its intended use because of the presence of any one of three specific kinds of defects:
- Design defect: A flaw in the product’s design made it unsafe;
- Manufacturing defect: The manufacturing process introduced a flaw into the product that made it unsafe; or
- Warning defect: The lack of adequate warning to the user about a potentially dangerous characteristic of the product made it unsafe.
When at least one of these types of defects is present in a product, California law allows a victim who has been injured to seek damages under one of three theories of legal liability:
- Strict liability: Manufacturers, suppliers, and sellers are liable for any personal injury caused by a defective product whenever someone used the product as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner, whether or not the manufacturer, supplier, and seller acted wrongfully. This legal theory only applies when the defect existed in the product at the time of sale, and the product causes harm to the user or a third party. It does not apply when the only “damage” caused by the defect is to the product itself. For example, a microwavable heat pack that explodes when heated, but does no further harm to the consumer, does not result in “strict liability” for the manufacturer. But if the heat pack explosion inflicted burns on the consumer and destroyed the consumer’s microwave, then the manufacturer will be strictly liable.
- Negligence: Manufacturers, suppliers, and sellers may be held liable if they failed to exercise reasonable care in manufacturing, packaging, maintaining, or otherwise handling a product, if those negligent actions caused the product to be defective and the defect resulted in an injury to a user or a third party. For example, if a car tire installer over-inflated a tire to the point of making it blow apart when used, the installer may be liable for the harmed caused by its negligence.
- Breach of warranty: When a manufacturer, supplier, and seller made an express or implied warranty to its customer about the quality and usability of a defective product, the customer may have a claim for damages if the product fails to meet the promises made in the warranty.
What Is the Difference Between Strict Liability, Negligence, and Breach of Warranty?
If the categories of product liability seem confusing to you, you are not alone. Product liability law can be difficult to understand, making it especially important to speak to an experienced product liability attorney if you or a loved one has been harmed by a product. However, in broad terms, strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty can be distinguished:
- Strict liability means the manufacturer, supplier, and seller have limited defenses to liability. It does not matter if those parties acted reasonably or unreasonably when they made or sold the defective product. If the product was defective when it reached the consumer, and the manufacturer, supplier, and seller knew someone would use it without inspecting it for defects, then they may have liability for damages. For that reason, strict liability claims may be less difficult to prove than other claims, and are the claims that product liability lawyers usually focus on first when a product has injured someone.
- Negligence is when a party in the “stream of commerce” either acted or failed to act in a manner that permitted products with manufacturing or design flaws or defects, or inaccurate or inadequate labeling, to reach consumers. Negligence claims may be more difficult to prove because they require showing someone acted unreasonably in the process of manufacturing, distributing, or selling the product. Experienced product liability lawyers will analyze the facts of the case to determine if negligence claims should be made. However, negligence claims are generally made less frequently than strict liability claims.
- Breach of warranty is a legal theory of contract law, regarding the promises made in a purchase and sale transaction. The applicability and damages available for breach of warranty claims tend to be limited.
For more information about consumer product safety and the issues surrounding California product liability law, please see Bohn & Fletcher’s Resources page.
Product Liability Damages
The attorneys at the law firm Bohn & Fletcher are dedicated to helping clients who have been harmed by defective products. We know that defective products may result in serious and sometimes lasting physical, emotional, and financial stress for victims. Their damages may include, but are not limited to:
- Medical expenses: Regardless of insurance coverage, victims often bear the burden of financial costs including hospitalization, medication, rehabilitation treatment, specialized medical equipment, and continuing care. These and other related medical expenses may be recoverable.
- Lost wages and loss of earning capacity: The injuries inflicted by a defective product may mean a victim cannot go to work for a period, or might not ever return to employment in their former capacity. Lost wages and loss of earning capacity may be recoverable.
- Pain and suffering: If a defective product has caused physical and emotional suffering, a victim may recover damages that reflect the type and severity of the injury, the duration of recovery, and whether there is permanent scarring, disfiguration, or disabilities.
- Loss of consortium: The negative impact of an injury or wrongful death to the personal relationship between the victim and their spouse or partner may be recoverable.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: When a defective product leaves a victim unable to engage in hobbies, pursuits, and other activities the victim enjoyed before the injury, the value of that loss may be recoverable.
- Property damage costs: The cost of repair, replacement, or destruction of property caused by a defective product may be recoverable.
- Punitive damages: In cases involving malice, oppression, or fraud by the defendant, a victim may pursue and recover punitive damages.
While past results are not a guarantee for future outcomes, the attorneys at Bohn & Fletcher have recovered millions of dollars in damages for our clients, including an $80 million verdict in a product liability case involving a defective booster seat. We are committed to working hard to ensure the best possible outcome in every case.
San Jose Product Liability Attorneys
To pursue and win a product liability case, a lawyer must have both the requisite skills and experience as well as the resources and resolve to stand up to huge corporations and their armies of high-priced lawyers. Bohn & Fletcher has taken on corporate giants including General Motors, Ford, Dorel, Costco, Wal-Mart, FMC, IBM, Apple, Praxair, Pennzoil, General Tire, Peterbilt and others (both foreign and domestic).
The product liability lawyers at Bohn & Fletcher have the experience and knowledge necessary to handle even the most difficult of cases. We will investigate and analyze all relevant facts, represent our client in negotiations, and handle all aspects of litigation when it becomes necessary. We build our cases using experts in engineering, metallurgy, human factors, labeling, accident reconstruction, and biomechanics, to identify causes of product failure and exactly how it inflicted the victim’s injuries.
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury or wrongful death caused by a consumer product that failed during normal use, speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Under California law, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years, with some exceptions and additional limitations. Do not wait to learn if you may be eligible for compensable damages. Contact the attorneys at Bohn & Fletcher in San Jose at (408) 279-4222 or online today and schedule a free consultation to learn if we may be able to help you.