What You Should Know About Product Liability in Chicago
Every year, thousands of people are injured by dangerous and defective products in the United States. It’s not your job as a consumer to wonder if products being sold are safe to buy and use. If a product is shown to be unsafe in the way it was designed or manufactured, then those injured by the product have a right to file a product liability claim. Product liability is the legal responsibility of a manufacturer, producer, distributor, retailer, or vendor of a product to compensate an injured party when its product causes harm or personal injury.
Product liability claims can not only compensate the victim for pain and suffering, but also warn others who have bought the same product and influence future design and manufacturing standards. The claims most commonly associated with product liability are negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty. Each state handles product liability law differently so in this blog post we will take a closer look at how Illinois handles each type of claim as well as what to do if you think you have a product liability case.
Explaining “Defective” Products
Product liability cases can get very complicated as laws vary from state to state and there are a lot of moving parts, but we will be discussing a high-level overview of how product liability claims generally work in Illinois. So, how can a product be defective? According to the Illinois Law Manual, “A product is defective when it fails to perform in the manner reasonably expected in light of its nature and intended function. A product is not unreasonably dangerous if the injury derives merely from the inherent properties of the product that are obvious to all.”
In general, there are three main ways:
- Design- A design defect occurs when the design itself is responsible for the product being unreasonably dangerous. Sometimes, in order to prove this, the plaintiff must show that there was a reasonable design alternative that would have been safer while still maintaining its cost of manufacturing and practical usage.
- Manufacturing- A manufacturing defect takes place during the manufacturing of the product. So, the design itself was not the issue.
- Warning labels- This becomes an issue when a product is lacking reasonable warnings or instructions to warn the user of the foreseeable risks associated with the product’s use. When a product is deemed defective due to “failure to warn”, it is assumed that the design and/or manufacturing were not the issue that led to the injury.
As you can see, there are many ways that a product can be proven “defective”. It’s good to keep in mind that product manufacturers usually know the most about their products and it is their responsibility to bring safe products to the market. Therefore, it falls to them to assume financial responsibility for any injuries or damage they cause.
Types of Product Liability Claims in Illinois
A product liability claim can be filed under the following legal theories:
In the state of Illinois, strict liability applies to the sale or lease of any product which, if defective, may be expected to cause physical harm to the consumer or user. In order for a strict liability claim to be made, the following three things must be true:
- The plaintiff was injured by the product
- The injury was caused by a defective condition of the product
- The defect existed when the product was in the defendant’s possession
It is the plaintiff’s responsibility to prove that the product was defective in at least one of the ways explained earlier. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is necessary to effectively battle a product manufacturer.
Negligence has to do with whether or not a manufacturer, distributor, or seller exercised care in the design, production, and/or distribution of a product, which subsequently causes injury to the plaintiff. The elements of a negligence action include:
- Breach of duty
- Damages to the plaintiff caused by the defendant’s negligence.
Unlike strict liability, a negligence claim places the responsibility on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant was negligent by not exercising ordinary care.
Breach of Warranty
In general, there are two types of warranties that can be breached. An express warranty is when the seller or manufacturer of a product extended a warranty to you, in writing or verbally, and the product injured you. An implied warranty is another form of a strict liability. According to the National Law Review, there are two types of implied warranties in Illinois: a warranty of “merchantability” of the goods being sold, and a warranty that the goods are “fit for a particular purpose.” Implied warranties become part of a sale transaction, unless legally excluded, so that buyers can purchase goods and be confident that they meet certain minimum standards.
Whiteside & Goldberg, Ltd.
In Illinois, the statute of limitations for filing a product liability claim is 2 years if based on personal injury, and 5 years if based on property damage. Proving fault in a product liability case may seem simple at first, but it is often a complex matter that requires the assistance of an experienced law firm. Contact Whiteside & Goldberg, Ltd. if you or a loved one are a victim of a product liability injury in the Chicago area.
Whiteside & Goldberg, Ltd. works hard to get you the settlement you deserve. They offer a free consultation and do not charge you anything until you win a settlement. The experienced attorneys at Whiteside & Goldberg, Ltd. fight to secure your financial future. For more information on product liability lawsuits, call 312-334-6875 for the Whiteside & Goldberg Michigan Avenue location and 815-730-7535 for their Shorewood office. You should never battle a product liability case without a dedicated attorney by your side.
The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute or establish an attorney-client relationship, nor constitute legal advice. If you wish to discuss any further aspect of the material contained herein, please contact an attorney at Whiteside & Goldberg, Ltd.