The makers of consumer goods owe it to their customers to conduct thorough testing and use safe materials and designs. If a dangerous or defective product does reach consumers, the people responsible must take action to protect against injuries. When a bad product does cause injury, it is important for the victim to hold the manufacturer liable to collect full compensation and help other consumers avoid the same fate. At Butler Wooten & Peak LLP, our Atlanta defective product lawyers have the extensive experience and resources necessary to handle product liability cases. Our track record against the makers of dangerous products speaks for itself.
When you buy something, you have a right to expect that it will not harm you if used properly. Liability of a product laws are a mix of state and federal regulations designed to protect consumers from dangerous or defective products. They allow people who are injured to seek compensation from the people who designed, manufactured, marketed or sold the dangerous product. If you use the product in a reasonable manner and it still causes injury, you may have a claim. You can consult with one of our Atlanta product liability attorneys about the details of your case.
Two methods determine fault in a Georgia court: strict liability and negligence.
For a strict liability case, you are not required to prove that the manufacturer or person you filed against was at fault. You need to show that they were the manufacturer, that the product was already malfunctioning when it left the manufacturer and went out to consumers, and that the defective product directly caused your injury.
Negligence cases can be more complicated. If you are claiming that a manufacturer or distributor was negligent, you need to show that they did not fulfill their duty to create a product that would not put the public at any harm.
Almost any product can lead to a liability claim. Some defects, like defective air bags, defective tires and other defective car parts, lead to many product liability claims because they are so likely to cause injury or even death. That is also the case with defective medical equipment and dangerous medications. Sometimes a product is dangerous because it is not labeled correctly. Sometimes it is dangerous because it was built of substandard materials. There are many ways that a product can fail and cause injury. If any type of product, from tools and toys to cars and construction equipment, contributed to your injury, you should speak to an attorney right away.
Determining whether you are entitled to compensation for injuries caused by a product involves several questions. Was the product defective when you bought it? Were you using it in a reasonable manner? When did you suffer your injuries? Was the defect the cause of your injuries?
Some cases require substantial investigation to demonstrate that a defect led to a specific injury. Every case is unique. If you suspect that you were injured due to a defective product, it is best to consult with an experienced product liability attorney as soon as possible. At Butler Wooten & Peak LLP, our skilled lawyers have handled defective product claims against some of the largest companies in the world. We have the experience and resources to investigate your claim and give you the advice you need.
When a product is designed or built in a shoddy, haphazard manner, it is no surprise when it leads to injuries. To maximize profit, corporations may cut corners on design, materials and safety testing. Dangerous products are sold to consumers because the makers of these products do not take the time and spend the money to make sure they are safe. When you are injured by one of these products that is defective, you deserve to be compensated.
The amount of compensation you are owed depends on many factors. We must determine the extent of your injuries, whether those injuries will prevent you from working, the negligence of the parties responsible for the defective product reaching you and more before we can begin to estimate the likely value of your claim.
Some product liability claims involve a measure of punitive damages. If the maker of a product demonstrated willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression or conscious indifference to the danger posed by the product, you may be entitled to damages intended to punish or deter the defendant. Punitive damages are not available in every product liability claim.
The courts decide in varying ways how much to award in damages. Different states follow different liability laws. Georgia courts use the modified comparative negligence rule, which mandates that the court consider how much both parties were at fault for the incident. If the court determines that you were 20% at fault for the damage, if you win an award for damages, the amount would be reduced by 20%.
Modified comparative negligence is a specific type of negligence rule. It is also the most common approach used. Modified comparative negligence states that if you were 50% at fault or higher, you are unable to receive any compensation. The manufacturer or person whom you have filed against must have been more responsible for the incident that you were.
Additionally, damages must be present for claims to be valid in Georgia. You cannot file a claim if there was no damage to you or your personal property. Some states also impose limits on how much can be awarded in damages. There is no cap in Georgia; however, the state takes 75% of the punitive damages that are awarded in product liability cases.
For the court to consider a product liability case legitimate, it must fulfill certain conditions. These rules apply regardless of the severity of the damages the defective product caused.
If the instructions on a tool suggest that you should wear eye protection while operating it and you fail to do so, can you still recover compensation for damage to your eyes? If the tool failed and sent shrapnel flying into your eyes, the makers of that tool are clearly responsible. But your failure to wear eyewear, as the instructions suggested, may have contributed to the extent of the damage you suffered. You may have your claim reduced in value based on the notion that you were comparatively negligent. If you are deemed 10 percent responsible for the accident, the value of your claim drops by 10 percent. Basically, even if you are partly at fault for the accident, you may still be entitled to compensation.
Compensation in product liability claims can come from the manufacturer of the product, the designer of the product, a wholesaler or a seller. In truth, most of these parties will carry insurance and the claim will be paid by one or more insurance companies. The key is to be able to identify every negligent party to maximize your chances of recovering full and fair compensation.
After a certain time, you can no longer file claims for product liability damages. The time windows vary by state. Georgia has two separate timelines for different types of cases. If you have a personal injury case, you have two years to file. You have four years to file for any kind of damage to your personal property.
Georgia also follows the discovery rule, which clarifies when the statute of limitations deadline begins counting down. The timeframe does not begin until the person discovers the damage. If it were reasonable that the person did not know about the harm until a year after it occurred, the statute of limitations would begin on the day the person discovers the harm.
The discovery rule does not apply in many cases involving injury. In cases of car accidents and slip and fall accidents, for example, the court expects the injured party to notice certain damages almost immediately, which makes it very important to understand the proper steps to take for these situations.
One aspect of Georgia law that can negate the discovery rule is the statute of repose. In Georgia, the limitation is 10 years. This means that 10 years marks a rigid deadline. Even if the person was previously unaware of damages, if they realize that damages occurred more than 10 years following the incident, claims are no longer valid in court.
The Statue of Repose does not apply to all cases, however. For example, the statute does not factor into cases where a manufacturer fails to warn consumers of hazards.
The Atlanta personal injury lawyer team Butler Wooten & Peak, LLP has been dedicated to serving the needs of injured people and grieving families since 1988. We have the experience and the skill to take your case to trial. Our opponents are well aware of our track record of trying and winning product liability claims. They know we will not accept a lowball offer to avoid going to court.
We have obtained some of the largest settlements and verdicts in Georgia history. We have won dozens of verdicts in excess of $1 million, including five verdicts that were well over $100 million. We can help you get the compensation you deserve and hold the makers and sellers of defective products accountable for the harm they do.
If you have been injured by a defective vehicle or another dangerous product, call our team of Atlanta product liability lawyers in at (404) 321-1700 or toll-free at (800) 242-2962 or contact us online to discuss your case.