Product Liability FAQS

Q. Who can be sued for injuries from dangerous or defective products?

A. Depending on the nature of the defect, a lawsuit on behalf of an individual injured or killed by a defective product may be brought against the manufacturer, the wholesalers, distributors or sellers.

Q. What products are covered under Louisiana product liability law?

A. Almost every product is subject to Louisiana product liability law. This includes everything from cars to toys to chairs to refrigerators to clothing to industrial machines and household equipment. There are some limitations in cases against certain products.

Q. Isn't it hard to take on a product manufacturer?

A. Yes. Product manufacturers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, often millions, in a given case attempting to defend the design and manufacture of their products. Losing a case can have monumental consequences for the manufacturer far beyond your case. Manufacturers will spend a significant amount of money to win the case.

Further, out of fear of more lawsuits from others killed or injured by their products, manufacturers rarely settle cases. The only way that a plaintiff can be successful in most product liability cases is to hire an attorney who has the resources to take on a large manufacturer.

Q. How can I show a product defect under Louisiana law?

A. A product may be found to be defective if it has a "manufacturing defect," a "design defect," or a "warning defect." You must prove one of these defects to be successful.

Q. What is a "design defect"?

A. A product has a "design defect" when it's manufactured correctly, but is unreasonably dangerous as manufactured.

A design defect occurs when the design of the product sold by the manufacturer is unreasonably dangerous. The product is made correctly, but the design is bad. Generally, the plaintiff must show the manufacturer could have used a "safer alternative design" which would have prevented the injury. The court will balance the feasibility of a "safer alternative design," with such factors as the cost, availability and impact on the product's effectiveness.

Q. What is a "manufacturing defect"?

A. A manufacturing defect exists if, when the product left the manufacturers control, it differed from the manufacturer's intended result. The design may be fine, but the product was made improperly.

Q. Does a product disclaimer satisfy a manufacturer's duty to warm?

A. A warning is inadequate if the manufacturer of the product does not provide the user with sufficient information regarding the danger involved in using the product. Adequate warnings and instructions must both be visible and warn of the degree of risk. Inadequate warnings and instructions are sufficient to render a product defective.

Q. What types of damages may I recover in a products liability case?

A. A person in a products liability case may seek damages that are intended to restore him or her to the condition he or she was before the accident and cover costs resulting from the injury. These typically include medical expenses, lost wages and lost earning capacity. Compensatory damages also include "non-economic" losses such as pain and suffering and mental anguish. If the plaintiff dies, his or her survivors may recover full compensation for their economic losses that result from the plaintiff's death as well as emotional distress damages that result from the loss of love and affection, society care and comfort of the decedent. If the survivors can prove that the plaintiff lived for a period of time between the accident and death, they may also be able to bring an action for his pain and suffering from the time of the accident to his death. See Wrongful Death.

Q. Do I need to retain an attorney and how soon?

A. Product Liability cases are very difficult and expensive cases to handle. It is advisable to consult with an attorney. Louisiana law provides a one-year statute of limitations from the date of injury for filing a defective product claim once you've been injured. Since early investigation is so critical in a product liability case, you should retain an attorney as soon as possible.

Q. Will my product liability case settle out of court?

A. Although many cases settle out of court, many manufacturers do not want to admit they designed a defective product. Even with a confidential settlement, manufacturers may be reluctant to settle. You need to hire an attorney who is willing to take the time and expend the necessary resources to try a product liability case.

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