Multiple parties may be liable if you are injured or damaged by a defective product. Essentially, any party involved in the defective product’s distribution chain can be responsible. Depending on the circumstances, those parties commonly include the following.
If there was a foreseeable risk posed by a product due to its design, even though it was manufactured correctly, the product’s designer might be liable.
Manufacturers are often liable in defective product lawsuits. In some cases, there may be multiple manufacturers involved. For instance, the manufacturer of the product itself or the manufacturer of a defective part—such as a faulty battery within a children’s toy. Any manufacturer involved in the product’s development can be named a defendant (at-fault party).
Any other “middlemen” involved in distributing the dangerous product, such as the wholesalers, distributors, or suppliers, can be liable. Even if an injury was not necessarily or directly their fault, since they were involved in distributing a defective product, they can potentially be partially or entirely responsible.
You may also have a case against the retailer who sold you the defective product. In some cases, a retailer can be held liable for simply selling a dangerous product. Additionally, you can name a retailer as a defendant even if you did not directly buy or use the faulty product. For instance, suppose you were speaking to a neighbor in their front yard when their lawn mower exploded. In that case, the dangerous product belonged to your neighbor, but that would not prevent you from filing a claim against the retailer which sold the defective lawn mower to your neighbor.
Other examples of potentially liable parties include marketers, outside consultants or contractors, engineers, and any other party involved in a defective product’s creation and distribution.
In many cases, more than one party can be held legally and financially responsible for a defective product injury. As a result, the insurance companies, the defendant’s lawyers, your product liability attorney, or the court must determine if the parties are “jointly and severally liable.” If so, you have the right to pursue any of the responsible parties for the entirety of your damages rather than collecting a part from each individual party. If the court finds the defendant does owe you damages, the defendant can seek contribution from the other responsible parties.
However, many product liability cases settle before court. Therefore, your attorney will attempt to negotiate a settlement that details each party’s percentage of liability for your injuries. Once an agreement is made, each defendant will then be held accountable for paying their portion of the settlement.
The following types of damages are typically available in a product liability claim:
Compensation to reimburse the costs of any medical bills, lost wages, or property damage caused by the dangerous or defective product. In addition, you are entitled to anticipated future lost income and medical expenses.
Compensation for your pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of companionship, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of reputation, etc.
Only awarded if the court wishes to punish the defendant for extreme negligence in designing, manufacturing, marketing, or selling a seriously dangerous product. Punitive damages are also awarded to deter others from doing the same.