Product Liability Lawsuits
Types of Product Liability Lawsuits
Product liability cases typically fall into three categories:
What Must Be Proved
Many drugs, products, and medical devices are known to carry serious risks. If a patient is properly advised of those risks and together with his/her doctor decides that the risks are worth taking, the patient may not have claim unless he/she was injured as a result of a defectively manufactured product (#1 above). If, however, the product is shown to be unreasonably dangerous (#2) or the manufacturer failed to provide adequate warnings or instructions (#3) the patient may have a valid claim.
For each of the three different claims listed above, the plaintiff must show that the product was defective or lacked proper warnings or instructions, and that the defect caused the injury. Plaintiff must also prove that when the injury occurred, the product was being used in the manner intended.
In defending itself against claims, a company may claim that the product was not unreasonably dangerous and that the injury was due to some other cause such as an "off label use," improper dosage, improper surgical implantation, or an allergic reaction. The company may also claim that the patient was adequately warned and assumed the risks known about the product or that another cause led to the injury.
Statute of Limitations
Product liability lawsuits must be filed within a certain time limit (the "statute of limitations.") The limit varies from state to state, but generally is 2-6 years within the date of the injury or, alternatively, the date which the injury "should have been discovered."
When a product is defectively designed or improperly labeled or marketed, it is likely that thousands of people will be adversely affected. When there are a large number of people who have suffered similar injuries from using the same product, they may be able to join together and file a class action lawsuit. Even a class action is already underway, you may have the option of joining. To find out if a class action already exists or to discuss the pros and cons of joining a class action, contact us and we will connect you with a qualified professional.
When numerous individual and class action lawsuits are filed regarding a specific product with similar injuries, the class of lawsuits becomes known as "mass tort litigation." In many cases of mass tort litigation, a special federal judicial panel may consolidate actions from around the country into one special federal district court. Known as multidistrict litigation or "MDL", this consolidation has the benefit of more efficiently and consistently handling the discovery process in similar cases. Cases that are filed after the formation of the MDL may be transferred to the MDL as so-called "tag-along" cases. The MDL judge presides over pretrial motions, discovery proceedings and settlement conferences. If a case is not settled or dismissed during MDL, it is sent back to the original court for a trial.
When a company is held liable for injuries (or agrees to a settlement), those affected can recover damages (or payments) that will help with vital treatment, family care and reimbursement of losses. Damages fall into two categories: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are intended to restore the plaintiff to the condition they were in before the injury by attaching a dollar value to the harm that occurred as a result of the injury. These may include economic losses such as medical expenses and lost wages or profits and non-economoic losses such as pain and suffering and loss of consortium. In many cases, compensatory damages are the only damages awarded. If the defendant has acted particularly badly, however, the judge or jury may also award punitive damages to punish the defendant and deter similar future conduct. Punitive damages are calculated based on the nature of the misconduct in relation to the company's wealth.
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If you have any questions about any potential claims your family may have or are interested in finding out about the existence of litigation pending for a particular drug, medical device, or other product, contact us and we will connect you with a qualified professional.
If you have experienced adverse events or side effects from a defective drug, blood product, biologic or medical device find help here.
Statutes of Limitations limit the time period that plaintiffs have to file a legal claim. These time limits vary from state to state, but generally range from 2-6 years. In product liability cases, the statute of limitations usually begins when the injury occurs, but in some cases may not start until the affected person discovers, or should have discovered, that the product caused their injury.