While the odds may seem stacked against you when taking on powerful companies and their legal teams, The Terry Law Firm can help shift the balance of power to the side of consumers. Since 1960, we have fought for people injured by faulty products and have recovered numerous multi-million-dollar settlements and verdicts on their behalf.
Combining vigorous legal representation and a long tradition of heartfelt advocacy, our Morristown product liability lawyers are committed to helping injury victims demand the justice they deserve. Discuss a possible product liability claim during a free case review: Call us at (423) 586-5800 or send us a message.
What Is Product Liability?
Product liability is based on the idea that products should not harm consumers, and that businesses should be held responsible for defective products. A product liability claim is a type of personal injury claim that seeks compensation for injured product users from parties along the chain of manufacture, including:
- The manufacturer of component parts
- Assembling manufacturers
- Product designers
- Retail store owners
- Any party that modified or repaired the product
Types of Defects
Product liability claims can be brought for three basic types of defects:
- Manufacturing defect: Defectively manufactured products have a flaw in the way they were made, such as substandard or defective materials, improper assembly, missing or loose parts, or, in the case of food, contaminated ingredients. A manufacturing defect can affect all units of the same product line, or it can be limited to a certain batch or batches.
- Design defect: A product may be defective due to a design flaw. Defectively designed products are unreasonably dangerous even when they meet manufacturing standards. Defective design makes the entire product line unsafe. Design must take into account the product’s intended use, as well as reasonably foreseeable uses and misuses. To establish a defective design claim, an injured person may be required to prove that a safer design alternative existed at the time of manufacture.
- Marketing defect: Also known as a “failure to warn” claim, a marketing defect claim asserts that a product is unsafe because the manufacturer did not provide adequate product instructions, labels, or warnings. This type of claim focuses on what the manufacturer knew — or should have known — about a given risk or danger of the product.
Theories of Liability
In most cases, a plaintiff’s product liability lawsuit is based on one or more of the following theories of liability:
- Negligence: Negligence is the failure to exercise ordinary care. An injured person must show that a company owed him or her a duty of care; that the company breached the duty of care owed; and that the injury would not have occurred but for the breach of care. In general, the duty to exercise ordinary care exists at every stage along the chain of distribution, including a product’s design, manufacture, packaging, labeling, and sale.
- Strict liability: Strict liability takes a much more straightforward approach than a negligence claim. It ignores the question of manufacturer conduct and focuses on two factors: (1) the product was defective; and (2) the product defect caused the injury.
- Breach of warranty: A breach of warranty claim is based on contract law. The warranty may be expressed or implied. If the purchaser can prove the existence of a product warranty, he or she can then argue that the seller did not fulfill the warranty terms.
Product liability plaintiffs usually name as many defendants and as many causes of action as possible. This strategy can lead to more information being revealed during litigation and more potential sources of compensation.
Compensation in a Product Liability Claim
Injured consumers may be able to recover three types of damages in a product liability case:
- Economic damages for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other monetary losses
- Non-economic damages for physical pain and suffering and mental anguish
- Punitive damages in cases where the defendant’s conduct is deemed to be egregious
Our Morristown product liability attorneys work closely with experts to calculate the past and future damages that a consumer is owed for a defective product injury. Recovering future damages is especially important for victims whose injuries lead to long-term care, disability, disfigurement, and extensive missed work time.
Our law firm’s priority is to aggressively pursue full and fair financial compensation for your product liability case. This means taking your case to court, if necessary. Although we can’t guarantee a particular recovery amount, our past case results speak to our strong advocacy.
Understanding Comparative Fault in Tennessee
Defendants to a product liability suit might claim that the product was not being used as intended when the injuries occurred. They might also claim that the injury victim’s own negligence caused the injury, something known as “comparative fault.”
Tennessee’s comparative fault law uses the “50 percent rule.” This rule states that the victim may still recover injury compensation if he or she was less than 50 percent at fault for the injuries. However, the amount of damages received will be reduced in proportion to the victim’s level of fault. (For example, if you win the case but are found to be 25 percent at fault, your financial award will be reduced by 25 percent.)
The victim of a defective product in Tennessee who is found to be 50 percent or more at fault for injuries may be unable to recover any compensation. This creates a powerful incentive for companies to allege — truthfully or not — that the victim is to blame for the injuries. Part of a successful product liability claim is pushing back against defendant claims about a plaintiff’s comparative fault.
Statute of Limitations on Product Liability Claims in Tennessee
Tennesseans must file a product liability lawsuit within one year of the date they suffered an injury. Product-related wrongful death claims must be filed within one year of the date of death.
Failure to bring a product liability claim within the specified statute of limitations can result in the forfeiture of legal rights, making it critical to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney right away.
Types of Product Liability Claims We Handle
Our attorneys represent injured consumers in claims involving:
- Household Appliances
- Toys and Children’s Products
The Terry Law Firm has obtained significant product liability recoveries that include:
The Terry Law Firm is a small-town firm with big-city know-how. We are proud to provide both top-quality legal representation and outstanding customer service. Talk to an experienced Tennessee product liability attorney now.
Holding Powerful Companies Accountable
When it comes to product safety, regulators usually have far less power and resources than the companies they regulate. Companies perform their own safety testing and voluntarily issue recalls when products turn out to be dangerous. Sometimes, they make a calculated assessment of whether it is cheaper to fix a problem or to cover it up and let the public suffer the consequences.
Not every injury or death associated with a consumer product necessarily is caused by a defect. But many injuries and deaths each year do result from products with design, manufacturing, or marketing defects. The civil justice system is instrumental in holding defective product makers accountable. Filing a product liability lawsuit brings financial relief to the victim and also shines a light on bad corporate behavior that would otherwise never be exposed.
Defective Product Death and Injury Statistics
Americans buy a lot of products. Consumer spending makes up more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy. Whatever products we buy, we should have a reasonable degree of trust that they won’t cause injuries and deaths. But for tens of thousands of consumers each year, that trust is unfortunately broken.
The United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) tracks consumer product-related injuries and deaths. According to the CPSC:
- Each year, an average of 36,732,000 people seek medical attention related to (but not necessarily caused by) a consumer product.
- Each year, there are approximately 34,000 deaths related to (but not necessarily caused by) consumer products.
From 1982 to 2016, the CPSC received nearly 15,000 reports of ATV-related fatalities. An estimated 100,000 people are treated in emergency departments for ATV-related injuries. ATV design flaws such as improper fuel tank placement and faulty brakes frequently contribute to injuries and deaths.
Car recalls have soared in recent years. In 2016, auto recalls hit an all-time high of 53.2 million vehicles. The previous all-time high of 51.1 million was set in 2015. Auto recalls fell to 30.7 million units in 2017, but this figure still exceeded the number of new vehicles sold for the year.
Automobile defects such as Toyota’s sticking accelerators, faulty GM ignition switches, and exploding Takata airbags caused hundreds of deaths and injuries. They also resulted in massive legal action and hundreds of millions of dollars paid by automakers to victims.
Drugs and Medical Devices
Patients use pharmaceutical products and medical devices to improve their quality of life. But far too often, the opposite occurs.
Over a 10-year period, the Food and Drug Administration received reports of more than 1.7 million injuries and 80,000 deaths linked with medical devices that include surgical mesh, hip prosthesis, spinal stimulators, and insulin pumps.
The statistics on prescription drugs are equally grim. An estimated 1.5 million to 2.7 million Americans are hospitalized each year for adverse drug reactions. By one estimate, taking prescribed medications is the fourth-leading cause of death in the country. Most people harmed by these drugs are taking them as prescribed.
Our Product Liability Lawyers in Morristown Are Ready to Fight for You
Proving that your injuries resulted directly from a defective consumer product can sometimes be difficult. That is why it is critical to have an experienced and knowledgeable product liability attorney on your side.
The Terry Law Firm has over 50 years of combined experience handling complex personal injury claims. We will put that experience to work for you against the companies that caused your defective product injury. Time and again, we have taken up product liability cases for clients who needed help fighting powerful companies. And time and again, we have recovered the financial compensation those clients needed for medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses.
Our Morristown product liability attorneys serve clients throughout East Tennessee, including residents of Hamblen, Greene, Hawkins, Sevier, Cocke, Jefferson, Washington, and Hancock counties, from our law offices in Morristown and Greenville.
Schedule your free consultation today: Call (423) 586-5800 or contact us online.