The Kansas City product liability attorneys at Dickerson Oxton, LLC have seen firsthand that when a product is found to be defective, or faulty, there can come to be more than just mere disappointment. Faulty products have the potential to cause serious personal injury or even the wrongful death of the end user or those around the end user.
Consumers in the United States use millions of different products each year. These products encompass a wide variety of categories; everything from Venetian blinds to tires for a Sport Utility Vehicle are bought and used. Different products can make the lives of consumers easier, provide entertainment, or be used to repair other devices.
When a dangerous or faulty product does cause personal injury or death, then a number of different parties can be held responsible for it. Designers, manufacturers, distributors, or sellers may all be held accountable. It should also be noted that you don’t have to be the person who initially purchased the product either. In Kansas City faulty products claims, the faulty product can be a gift or borrowed and still have valid grounds for a claim of personal injury or wrongful death.
- How to contact a Kansas City product liability attorney
- What compensation can you receive from a defective product claim in Kansas City?
- What is the time limit for filing a defective product liability claim in Missouri?
- Liability and negligence for product liability cases
- Types of defects in Kansas City liability case
Contact a Skilled Kansas City Product Liability Attorney
Faulty or defective products can cause serious personal injury and in some cases, the wrongful death, of the end users or even bystanders. If you or someone you love has been the victim of a faulty product, contact a highly qualified Kansas City product liability attorney at Dickerson Oxton, LLC today. Our experienced legal team offers client-specific strategies to help make your case a success.
You can reach one of our experienced Kansas City injury lawyers at (913) 428-8220. Alternatively, you can fill out our free case evaluation form on our website and we will get back to you promptly.
Being a smaller law firm, we are directly available to our clients and handle all cases with the utmost compassion. Unlike our larger competitors, who route calls through paralegals and assistants, our product liability attorneys are always directly available for any questions or concerns our clients may have. Adopting this client-first mentality allows us to personally connect with each victim and understand how they are suffering in order to assess their case. The Kansas City personal injury lawyers at Dickerson Oxton, LLC are dedicated to a personal approach to compassionate representation.
Seek Justice for Defective Product Injuries
At Dickerson Oxton, LLC, your initial consultation is always free of charge. When we do accept cases, we operate on a contingent fee basis. We choose to operate this way for the sole benefit of our clients; if we don’t win your case, you won’t pay anything.
With over a decade of combined litigation experience, our accident and injury attorneys have the dedication and experience needed to help you with your case. Please call or contact us online today.
Compensation in Kansas City Defective Product Claims
Like most civil actions, the damages in a product liability claim fall into two categories: economic and non-economic damages. It’s generally easy for a plaintiff to prove economic damages, which can include:
- Medical expenses. This includes financial expenses for medical care resulting from a defective product, such as ambulance fees, emergency room fees, rehabilitation, or any necessary ongoing care.
- Lost income. If the damage from a defective product caused a plaintiff to miss work, he or she can claim the wages lost during that time, or until the plaintiff reached maximum possible medical recovery. In cases involving permanent injuries or disabilities, the plaintiff can secure compensation for lost future earning capacity. The plaintiff’s Kansas City product liability attorney will likely consult with expert witnesses who can provide accurate estimates of what the plaintiff would have likely earned in the future.
- Property damage. If a plaintiff’s defective product claim involves an item that also damaged the plaintiff’s home, vehicle, or other personal property, the plaintiff can claim the cost of repairing or replacing these things in the lawsuit.
Non-economic damages are more difficult to determine. Some courts will use a multiplication method to determine an appropriate figure, while others refer to a “per diem” rule. In the case of the former, the jury will multiply the plaintiff’s claimed amount of medical expenses by a certain number, usually two to five, and then award the result as pain and suffering damages. For example, a plaintiff suffered third-degree burns from a defective product, resulting in $50,000 in medical expenses. The jury may decide to multiply this amount by three considering the serious and painful nature of the injuries for a total of $150,000 in pain and suffering compensation.
Pain and suffering compensation can be substantial in some cases, especially those involving injuries that cause permanent disfigurement or disability. When courts use a per diem rule, the jury will decide an amount of compensation the plaintiff receives each day until he or she reaches maximum recovery. For example, a jury decides a plaintiff deserves $100 per day in pain and suffering damages for the extent of his or her recovery. After 200 days in rehabilitation, the plaintiff reaches the maximum possible recovery and receives $20,000 in compensation for the pain and suffering experienced during the recovery period.
It’s likely other legal actions may already be in motion against a manufacturer when you decide to file your defective product claim. Most companies prefer to keep these situations quiet, so you may not even know you purchased a potentially defective product already involved in litigation. When you consult with your Kansas City product liability attorney, he or she will advise you whether a class-action lawsuit is already in progress and if joining one would be in your best interests.
Filing legal action against a large corporation is an incredibly daunting task, as these companies typically have in-house legal teams or keep high-powered lawyers on retainer. The average person may not be able to afford a lengthy litigation process with an uncooperative defendant who has virtually unlimited resources.
Joining a class-action lawsuit is a double-edged sword. While it’s much easier for plaintiffs to secure compensation for their damages at a fraction of the cost of filing individual claims, the amount of compensation they receive is generally much lower. Since the plaintiffs in a class-action suit essentially roll all of their claims into one large claim, the litigation process is much quicker, as well. Although joining a class-action lawsuit may yield a lower amount of compensation, it’s generally more realistic to expect success as a member of a class-action lawsuit than as an individual plaintiff against a giant corporation’s legal team.
Time Limit for Filing a Product Liability Claim in Missouri
A product liability claim is a civil action, which means you must file your claim within the appropriate statute of limitations, or time limit, in your state. In Missouri, the statute of limitations is five years starting on the date of injury. For an acute injury such as a burn or other severe bodily injury, determining the start date of the statute of limitations is simple. However, some defective products result in medical conditions, illnesses, or diseases that take time to manifest noticeable symptoms.
Missouri follows a discovery rule for the statute of limitations in these cases, which means the statute begins on the date the plaintiff discovered the harm in question. The statute may also begin on the date the plaintiff should have discovered the harm in question through reasonable diligence, depending on the nature of a specific case. When an individual discovers an illness or medical condition he or she believes resulted from a defective product, the first step in securing compensation is determining the start date for the statute of limitations.
It’s important to take your own actions into account when determining the statute of limitations as well. For example, imagine you develop a respiratory condition due to exposure from a defective product over the course of several months. The court may decide the statute of limitations begins on the date your symptoms appeared and not when you received a diagnosis. If you experienced symptoms for several months before seeking medical care, you could jeopardize your chances of successfully filing a defective product claim.
Some manufacturers identify defects and attempt to correct them before they turn into liability claims. In some cases, manufacturers notify consumers of a defect, albeit indirectly. The company may offer to replace a product without explicitly stating the product is defective in an attempt to start the clock for the statute of limitations. It’s crucial to pay close attention to any notices or offers you receive from product manufacturers and consult with a Kansas City product liability lawyer if you are unclear on your options.
You may also encounter disclaimers or liability release clauses included with products you purchase. These may serve only to discourage consumers from filing claims and likely carry very little legal weight. If you have any questions about the verbiage in a product warranty, or you recently received any correspondence from a manufacturer, consult with an experienced product liability attorney to determine whether or not you have grounds for a defective product claim.
Early Steps in a Product Liability Claim
It’s essential to confirm your claim meets the required statute of limitations, so contact an attorney as soon as you identify any injury or illness you believe resulted from a defective product. Once your attorney confirms your claim meets the state’s statutes for filing a defective product claim, you should start researching all of the potential defendants in your claim. Your initial claim should include every participant in the chain of distribution for the defective product in question.
You should carefully document all correspondence with potential defendants and retain copies of any documentation that could help your case. This can include records of medical expenses attributed to injuries resulting from the defective product, photographs of any property damage or injuries the product caused, and the defective product itself, if possible. Your Kansas City product liability attorney can advise you how to properly secure and preserve the evidence for your case. The plaintiff should also keep copies of all documentation related to his or her claimed losses. It’s not only vital to have thorough proof of the extent of the damages in a defective product claim, but also proof those damages resulted from the defective product and not some other cause.
Liability and Negligence in Defective Products Claims
When discussing Kansas City faulty products claims and cases, some terms you’ll hear quite frequently are liability and negligence. Simply stated, liability is when a person or group of people (like a company for example) is found to be responsible for causing something. Faulty products liability laws are in place on both state and federal levels to help protect the rights of consumers who use them. Common claims associated with faulty products liability include:
- Strict liability
- Breach of warranty
Negligence, by definition, is a conduct that a person (or entity such as a company) engages in which is culpable because it falls short of what a reasonable, responsible person (or entity) would or would not do in a given situation. A negligent action could be manufacturers knowingly creating a dangerous product, vendors selling a product without proper warning labels (such as fireworks), or any action taken by anyone in the chain of creation of a product which circumvents a person’s knowledge of possible harm that it could cause. Concerning faulty products cases in Missouri, a Kansas City product liability lawyer doesn’t always have to prove negligence occurred. The strict liability law states that negligence does not need to be established and that the mere fact that a faulty product caused harm or death is grounds enough to hold a party liable.
Who Is Liable for Defective Product Injuries?
There could be one or more defendants in your product liability claim. Ultimately, any and all participants in the product’s chain of distribution could potentially absorb some level of liability for your damages. One of the first steps in building your product liability claim is to identify any party who may bear responsibility and name them in your initial complaint. Finding and identifying these entities may be difficult due to the nature of modern business; your Kansas City product liability lawyer can provide guidance for this process. It’s worth taking the time to do this legwork for the best chances of securing compensation for your damages.
The typical chain of distribution for a given product includes the manufacturer, wholesaler or distributor, and a retailer. The defendants in your case may involve one or more of these entities, depending on the nature of your product liability claim. It’s also possible for there to be several middlemen between the manufacturer and the retailer who sold you the product. You should include any company or entity in your claim that had a place in the defective product’s chain of distribution.
Many Americans purchase products from foreign manufacturers. This may complicate a product liability claim, but it does not prevent you from taking legal action. Foreign-based companies that do business in the United States or sell their products in the United States must still abide by the U.S. rules for commerce, meaning they are liable for defective products. The foreign entities you cite in your complaint will fall under U.S. jurisdiction in some form, so you may need to take file a case out of state if the foreign company has a production facility or corporate office in another state.
It is imperative to seek professional legal representation as soon as possible if your product liability claim involves any company with foreign origins. These companies fall under appropriate U.S. jurisdictions for doing business in the country, but they will often fight inclusion in a chain of distribution for defective product claim, and the process of properly serving complaints to these organizations can be very complicated.
Modern businesses constantly change, and it’s possible for a company to go through mergers, reorganizations, rebranding, renaming, or become a subsidiary of a larger corporation. A defendant in your case may have “inherited” liability for your damages. If the company participated in the chain of distribution of a defective product in a previous state, the current state of the company would inherit this liability.
Types of Liability for Defendants in Defective Product Cases
The law considers multiple defendants in a product liability claim as liable both jointly and separately. Joint and several liabilities mean each defendant you name in your claim is individually responsible for your damages, and all defendants share responsibility for the total compensation award. This means the defendants must decide among themselves how to split the cost of your case award. If your case leads to fault percentages for each defendant, it’s likely they will use these percentages as a basis for dividing their responsibility for your case award.
It’s important to note some states follow pure joint and several liability statutes. This means one defendant may bear full responsibility for a plaintiff’s claimed damages even if that defendant was only marginally liable for the damages. This may require the one defendant to pay the entire cost of your damages. This is part of the reason why it is so important to thoroughly research all the possible defendants for your product liability claim. For assistance with establishing liability in your specific case, speak with a product liability attorney in Kansas City.
Types of Defects in Kansas City Product Liability Cases
Defects can arise throughout the creation of a product. Kansas City, MO faulty products generally consist of one or more of the following types of defects:
These defects occur in the design stage of making a product before it is manufactured. The product will likely function as designed but due to a design defect, it may be unsafe to use it as such.
Defects that arise in the creation of a product, at the assembly stage, are called manufacturer defects. This could be due to inadequate (or lesser quality) materials used to make a product, machine operator error, or contaminants getting into the product itself. In these types of defects, typically only a small percentage of products have the defect, yet it is still dangerous to use.
After a product has been designed and created, it needs to be labeled and marketed. Defects in this category include incomplete documentation or even a complete lack of labels which would inform the consumer of a product’s potential dangers.
Faulty products liability laws in place can hold any person or entity, throughout the creation of a product, responsible for the catastrophic injury or death it may cause. In order to have a successful Kansas City faulty products case, the product must be used “as directed” (as described in the packaging) and unmodified, in its original form. When a product causes personal injury or death, it is imperative to keep the faulty product in your possession. Keep it in a safe place where it will be unaltered and away from other people. This is to ensure it no longer hurts anyone and because it will be key evidence in a product liability case. If the defective product is an automobile, avoid relinquishing control of it to an insurance company and by all means do not get it repaired.