At The Dominguez Firm, we believe when a loved one dies due to the negligence of another person or company, family members should be compensated for their loss. With over 35 years of experience and a 96%* success record, our firm has successfully helped he families of victims of defective products find justice.
We understand how difficult it can be to navigate such complex cases. This is why hiring an experienced wrongful death attorney who knows the law and has expertise in product liability cases is crucial.
In this article, we will provide an overview of product liability law and wrongful death claims as well as discuss key elements to prove these types of cases, who might be held liable, the role of expert witnesses in establishing defect and causation, types of compensation available in wrongful death cases involving defective products, challenges, and complexities associated with pursuing these claims successfully, and the importance of hiring an experienced attorney.
Overview of Product Liability Law and Wrongful Death Claims
Product Liability Law Basics
Product liability law (also known as product safety law) holds manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and suppliers responsible for any damage caused by their products. These laws are designed to protect consumers from dangerous products, including everything from appliances and electronics to food products and medications. If a product causes harm or injury, the manufacturer can be held liable under product liability law.
Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death claims are civil lawsuits brought against a person or entity whose negligent behavior resulted in someone else’s death. While these types of cases typically involve medical malpractice, auto accidents, or workplace accidents, they can also be caused by defective products that lead to the death of a consumer. In this case, the victim’s legal next of kin may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the manufacturer if they can prove that their loved one died as a direct result of using the defective product in question.
How Evidence Is Used in Wrongful Death Cases Involving Defective Products
For a successful wrongful death claim involving defective products, the evidence must demonstrate that the product was indeed faulty and led directly to the victim’s death. This evidence could include eyewitness accounts from people who witnessed the accident; photos or videos of the accident; medical records; police reports; and expert testimony from professionals in fields such as engineering or medicine. Both sides then use this information to prove their respective points.
Types of Defective Products That Can Lead to Wrongful Death
Although it is impossible to detail every product that may become defective and cause the death of a loved one, here are some of the most common product categories and how they may contribute to a wrongful death defective product lawsuit.
Defective Automotive Products
The automotive industry produces numerous products that can malfunction and lead to wrongful death, such as tires, airbags, seat belts, and brakes. Tires with design defects can cause tread separation and blowouts, resulting in catastrophic accidents. Faulty airbags may deploy too early or not at all when an accident occurs, which can be fatal. Seat belts and brakes also play a crucial role in keeping drivers safe during car crashes; if these products fail due to manufacturing or design defects, they could result in severe injury or death.
Defective Medical Devices
Medical devices are designed to improve healthcare outcomes, but sometimes they contain design flaws that put people’s lives at risk. Examples of medical devices that have caused injury and even death include heart stents, pacemakers, hip implants, and surgical meshes. In many cases, manufacturers are aware of the device’s risks before it gets released but choose not to disclose them to consumers; this negligence could provide grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturer if someone dies from using the device.
Defective Pharmaceutical Drugs
Drugs used for medical purposes should constantly be tested thoroughly by the FDA before being released onto the market. Unfortunately, some pharmaceutical companies cut corners and release drugs without fully understanding their long-term side effects. If these drugs end up causing severe harm or death to patients, their families may be able to file suits against the drug company and prescribing doctor for any associated losses.
Key Elements To Prove In A Defective Product Wrongful Death Case
The first thing that needs to be established in a defective product wrongful death case is negligence. They must have failed to exercise reasonable care in designing or manufacturing the product. This negligence must directly cause the victim’s death and/or injury. It is important to note that proving negligence can be difficult and requires an experienced attorney who can navigate all applicable laws and find evidence of fault.
In addition to establishing negligence, it must also be determined who was liable for the victim’s death or injury. Generally speaking, three types of parties may be liable for wrongful death in cases involving defective products: the designer, manufacturer, and seller. Determining liability depends on whether any other parties breached their duty of care when creating or selling the product. An experienced attorney will know how to identify all potentially liable parties and pursue legal action against them.
It is also necessary to demonstrate damages when filing a wrongful death claim arising from a defective product. In other words, you must show that your loved one suffered losses due to their death. These losses can include medical bills, funeral expenses, and lost wages that would not have occurred if not for the negligent actions of another party. Demonstrating these damages is often difficult since many losses cannot easily be quantified, such as emotional distress or loss of companionship; however, an experienced attorney can help prove these losses through expert testimony and other methods.
Common Parties That Can be Held Liable in Defective Product Wrongful Death Cases
Manufacturers and Suppliers
The manufacturer and suppliers of the product in question may be held liable for any injuries or deaths caused by their products. This means they could face legal action if any part of the product was faulty or dangerous. Manufacturers must also warn consumers about any potential hazards associated with their products, including warning labels, instructions, and other safety measures. If they fail to do so, they could also be held liable for any injury or death resulting from their negligence.
Retailers may also be held accountable if they were aware of any potential risks associated with the product but failed to alert consumers about them. In addition, retailers must ensure that all products sold are safe for use — this includes regular inspections and maintenance of the product before it is sold. If retailers fail to do these things, they may also be held liable if someone is injured or killed due to using one of their products.
Product designers are responsible for ensuring that a product’s design meets specific safety standards and guidelines before production. If there were defects in the design of a product, then the designer may be held accountable if someone was injured or killed because of it. Additionally, they must ensure that all components used in creating the product meet industry standards and are safe for use by consumers.
The Role Of Expert Witnesses In Establishing Defect And Causation
To prove that a product was indeed defective and resulted in wrongful death, an attorney must find an expert witness qualified to testify on behalf of the client. An expert witness has extensive knowledge and experience in the type of product involved in the claim and can provide evidence regarding its safety features, design defects, manufacturing defects, etc. The expert witness’s testimony can go a long way toward establishing defect and causation in wrongful death claims.
An experienced attorney can help you identify potential expert witnesses with relevant experience with products similar to those in your case. They may also be able to obtain documents from the manufacturer that could link the product defect with your loved one’s injury or death so that you can make a strong case for compensation for your losses.
Types of Damages Available in Wrongful Death Cases Involving Defective Products
Losing a loved one is always a challenging experience, and it can be especially hard to move forward when a defective product causes death. In these cases, family members may be eligible for damages (the legal term for financial compensation) to help cover the costs of medical bills, funeral expenses, and other costs associated with the wrongful death. Understanding what damages are available in these cases is essential to make an informed decision about your legal options.
Economic losses refer to any financial losses that were incurred as a result of wrongful death. This includes medical bills, funeral expenses, lost wages and benefits, and loss of inheritance or pension benefits. If someone depended on the deceased for economic support, they may also be entitled to compensation for any future earnings that would have been provided by the deceased had he or she lived.
Non-economic losses refer to emotional and mental suffering caused by a wrongful death. These losses are typically more challenging to calculate because they cannot be directly quantified. Examples of non-economic losses include emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of companionship or consortium, and loss of care and guidance for surviving children.
In some cases, it may also be possible to seek accountability from the responsible party through punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded when someone has exhibited wanton disregard for safety or acted maliciously or fraudulently regarding a product’s design or manufacture. This type of award is intended not only to provide financial compensation but also to discourage similar behavior by holding liable parties accountable for their actions. Note that punitive damages are rarely awarded.
Challenges and Complexities in Pursuing Defective Product Wrongful Death Claims
One of the biggest challenges in any wrongful death claim is proving that the defendant’s negligence or defective product caused your loved one’s death. In many cases, multiple parties or factors could have contributed to the death, making it difficult to prove causation. To make matters worse, defendants often try to hide who was at fault by introducing their experts or third-party studies that show that their product was not responsible for the death. Experienced attorneys can help you navigate these complex evidence issues and secure the compensation you deserve for your loss.
Statutes of Limitations
Every state has its own statute of limitations, which means there is a deadline by which time you must file your claim or risk being barred from doing so. It depends on various factors, including the type of claim being filed and when exactly you became aware that your loved one died due to wrongful circumstances. California’s general statute of limitations is two years, with limited exceptions. Working with an experienced attorney who knows how to navigate these statutes will increase your chances of success and ensure that all deadlines are appropriately met.
Having said all of the above about the time limits for a wrongful death claim, don’t wait to file your lawsuit. Delaying can greatly hurt your claim. Defense attorneys may question why you waited in an effort to reduce the value of your case, unfair as that may sound. Also, key evidence may be lost if you wait. Of course, it’s normal to be devastated after the sudden loss of a loved one, but if you want to seek justice in their name, it’s best to act quickly.
Importance of Hiring an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney for Defective Product Cases
Cases involving a wrongful death can be very complex. This is not the type of claim surviving families should navigate on their own. When pursuing legal action against the manufacturer of a defective product, it is vital to find an experienced attorney who understands the nuances of this type of case. An experienced wrongful death lawyer will know exactly which steps to take to receive maximum compensation for your loss. They will also be able to identify any potential issues with your case, such as how much evidence you need and how long the process may take.
The Dominguez Firm Has Over 35 Years of Experience Helping the Families of Wrongful Death Victims
The Dominguez Firm has been helping the families of wrongful death victims for over 35 years. We understand that this is a difficult time for you and your family. That’s why we stand by our motto of compassion, service and results. We’ll handle the insurance companies, deadlines and other legal matters so you can mourn in peace.
And if you’re worried about how to pay us, know we work on a contingency basis. That simply means we receive a percentage of your final settlement or verdict. That percentage will be clearly stated in the client representation agreement you sign when you become our client. You don’t have to worry about legal fees, hidden costs or any up front fees at all.
Also, in the rare event we can’t secure any compensation for you, you owe us nothing. In other words, if there is no recovery, there is no fee! You truly have nothing to lose and so much to gain by contacting The Dominguez Firm.
Call us at (800) 818-1818 today to receive a free case evaluation and learn more about how The Dominguez Firm can help you.