Dangerous products continue to plague our society and cause serious, often catastrophic injury to users of such products. Claims against the designers and manufacturers of defective products are often complex, and they can be expensive due to evidentiary requirements and the size and identity of the defendants, which are frequently large corporations.
Complex product liability cases require specialized knowledge because they are unique cases that are litigated differently than other types of personal injury cases. Because many of the facts underlying such cases are common to all those injured by defective drugs or medical devices, such cases are consolidated for discovery purposes and are called mass torts.
Types of Product Liability Claims
Product liability claims are made against the designers and manufacturers of defective products, as well as all suppliers in the chain of distribution. One reason that it is important to hire an experienced product liability attorney is because the research necessary to identify defendants can be challenging, especially if a product has been on the market for a while.
Generally, there are three types of product liability claims:
Failure to warn.
Product liability cases also typically involve claims for negligence, negligence per se, breach of warranty, and strict liability.
Depending on the product at issue and the facts of each case, there can be numerous defenses alleged. These include the workers’ compensation bar, assumption of the risk, expiration of the statute of limitations, federal preemption, and lack of causation. Another common defense is that the product was inherently dangerous, such as a knife or a chainsaw.
Product liability cases rely heavily on expert testimony to prove causation, and it is necessary for a product liability attorney to understand both the underlying science and the evidentiary requirements of proving causation. For example, a skilled product liability must be well versed in the rules and standards for expert witness testimony. In federal court, the standard is called the Daubert standard. In Pennsylvania state court, the standard is the Frye standard.