Dangerous and Defective Product Claims
As consumers, we assume that the products we purchase are safe for their intended purpose. However, hundreds of North Carolina residents are seriously injured yearly because of medical devices, consumer products, and medications sold with inherent defects or inadequate warnings about potential risks.
Experienced Product Liability Attorneys Located in Wilmington, North Carolina
When an industrial, medical, or consumer item causes injury, illness, or death because of defects or a failure to warn, victims may be eligible to seek monetary compensation. Our Wilmington product liability lawyers provide free case evaluations to determine if you have grounds for legal action.
- A wide range of products can cause serious harm when shortcuts are taken.Product liability cases often arise from:
- Motor Vehicle Defects: Faulty vehicle components and systems lead to many serious injuries and deaths. Whether these injuries relate to well-publicized cases with product recalls or lesser-known problems, auto manufacturers and dealers can be ordered to compensate victims.
- Medical Devices: The use of medical devices–including pacemakers, hernia mesh, and joint replacements–always carries risk, but in many cases, a device has inherent design or manufacturing flaws that cause serious injury or death. Device manufacturers can be sued for damages.
- Defective or Harmful Drugs:Pharmaceutical companies manufacture and market hundreds of new drugs yearly. Though all these products are regulated and approved by the Food and Drug Administration, thousands die each year due to known and unknown side effects. Drug manufacturers may be held liable for injuries if the product they sell is defective or unreasonably dangerous due to manufacturing errors, inadequate consumer warnings, or design flaws. Many pharmaceuticals have caused such widespread injury that class action suits or mass torts have been filed against their manufacturers.
- Consumer Products: From toys and children’s furniture to appliances and electronics, many potentially dangerous consumer products are allowed into U.S. stores. When they cause injury, manufacturers and even retailers can be called to account.
- Construction Products: Problems with construction products have produced some of the toughest litigation in recent decades. Our attorneys have been involved in dozens of these national legal battles. We are constantly evaluating the dangers of new and improperly vetted building products. Our defective building product cases over the years have included Chinese drywall, LP Trim Board, Atlas shingles, Pella Architect and Designer Series windows, Rust-Oleum Restore products, and more.
- Mass Torts and Class Action Lawsuits: Our firm is equipped to represent clients in complex litigation, including cases involving data breach and defective surge protectors. We are currently representing clients in several data breach cases in North Carolina and across the country. Call us for more information.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Product Liability Lawsuit in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, plaintiffs may sue any individual or entity in the chain of distribution who took part in the design, manufacture, or marketing of the defective product. Potential defendants could include the manufacturer, the wholesaler, the distributor, or the retailer. North Carolina retailers may be protected by the ‘sealed container defense.’ This applies to cases where the seller had no opportunity to inspect products that were fully sealed.
This rule may not apply to the following situations:
- The retailer damaged the product before the sale
- The product manufacturer is insolvent
- The product manufacturer is outside of North Carolina’s jurisdiction
What is the Statute of Limitations to File a Product Liability Lawsuit in North Carolina?
North Carolina imposes a deadline, or statute of limitation, for filing a product liability lawsuit. Plaintiffs generally have three years from the date the injury or illness occurred or when the injury should reasonably have been discovered.
However, if the defective product in question was purchased more than 12 years ago, any claim for damages would be barred by the courts according to the revised statute of repose.
Do I Have a Class Action Case, Mass Tort, or Private Product Liability Claim?
In just about any product liability case, the option of a class action case or mass tort could be looked at. This is because manufacturers typically produce hundreds, and sometimes thousands of any one product, meaning that many, many people can be affected by any defects found within that one product. When that happens, a class action case or a mass tort might be filed.
While they do differ from each other, class action suits and mass torts involve large groups of people that have a similar lawsuit against one company or responsible party. Filing these types of lawsuits can give plaintiffs larger amounts of compensation, save them costs, and can also keep the court systems from filling up with the same case over and over again.
Not all product liability cases however, meet the criteria needed to file a class action suit or mass tort. In these cases, private product liability claims can be filed; and even when there are several plaintiffs with the same claim, this might still be the most desirable option. To determine what’s best for you and your case, speak to a professional Wilmington product liability lawyer, such as us here at Rhine Law Firm, P.C.
This is because typically the defendants, or those being sued, are large companies and major corporations that have unlimited funds when it comes to their teams of attorneys. Those attorneys work very hard to discredit witnesses, find loopholes within the law, and at best case, confuse the injured parties into settling for a much smaller amount. It’s for this reason that if you’re considering pursuing a product liability case, you should call an experienced Wilmington product liability attorney.
A product liability attorney will know how those big companies, and their lawyers, work; and they’ll use their experience to fight for you and your case in court, should it get that far. Your attorney will provide you with expert legal counsel so you can make the most informed decisions possible about how to pursue your claim, and how to help get you the compensation you deserve. Often however, cases don’t even make it to court because a settlement agreeable to both parties is reached before that time. This can be a very attractive option, saving everyone time and money, and a good attorney can help make that happen.
How Much Compensation Will I Receive in My Product Liability Claim?
Of course, no one can tell how much compensation any product liability claim is worth without fully understanding all the details of the case. However, a Wilmington product liability lawyer can help you understand the types of damages that are available in these types of cases.
Damages awarded in product liability claims or personal injury claims are typically divided into two categories: compensatory damages, and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the victim or injured party for what they’ve lost, and nothing more. This would include things such as financial loss due to being unable to work, medical bills, or the loss of the limb, or the actual injury itself.
In addition to compensatory damages, punitive damages may also be awarded. These are damages awarded to the injured party that are intended to punish the responsible party.
In North Carolina there is a statute that sets forth many factors taken into consideration when considering damages, including the responsible party’s ability to pay, the degree of negligence or misconduct on their part, and the responsible party’s history of acting in a similar manner. This can be a complicated process to wade through, and having a good attorney by your side can make the entire process much simpler.
Should I Settle or Litigate My Product Liability Claim?
Ideally, every product liability case would settle out of court. It would certainly save the courts and parties involved a lot of time and money. Unfortunately, the parties involved in different cases don’t always agree and when this is the case, it’s taken to the courts to decide.
In any case, every effort should be made at negotiating a deal that satisfies both parties. While this sounds reasonable, many injured parties are so enraged by what’s happened, they close themselves off to negotiation and believe going to court is the only way to get the compensation they deserve. This isn’t always the case, so it’s important to remain open-minded throughout the process.
On the other hand, sometimes the parties responsible become so sure of themselves and of their case that they become over-confident and believe there’s no way they could ever lose in court. When this is the case, they often become closed off to negotiation and rush to take the case to court. And when that happens, it can actually work in favor of the defendant, because the responsible party has already “showed their hand”.
This is another area in which having a product liability attorney on your side can be beneficial. Here at Rhine Law Firm, P.C., we take our years of experience into these negotiations and fight hard to get our clients the settlement they deserve. When needed, we’re also prepared to go to court to aggressively fight your case when a settlement cannot be reached.
How a Wilmington Attorney Can Help You File a Product Liability Lawsuit
The consequences and injuries caused by defective products can range from serious to fatal. They can include broken bones, burn injuries, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and in the most extreme cases, even wrongful death. When this is the case, the person injured, or the loved ones of the person injured, may be eligible to receive compensation. However, getting the compensation deserved is a complicated process, and a difficult one for those not familiar with it to maneuver. And in the end, they’re not always successful for those most affected by them.
In order to file a product liability lawsuit with the courts the plaintiff, or person injured, must be able to prove three things:
- The product was defective, and there was no way to know of the defect before using it
- An injury was sustained and,
- The injury sustained was the direct result of using the defective product
All three of these things can be difficult to prove in court. In order to do so, the victim should retain any and all documentation regarding the product and the injury including medical records, photographs of the injury, hospital bills, proof of purchase, instruction manual, and warranty information. Even with all of this evidence, it can still be difficult to prove product liability cases in court.
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Although our primary office location is in Wilmington, North Carolina we represent clients nationally and across the state of North Carolina. Some of the many areas we serve are listed below.
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