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Strict liability and defective products in California

The number of defective products accidents has risen dramatically in the United States in recent years: nationally, the number of people who have been affected by product defects is estimated at 34 million each year.

That’s why several states, including California, have strengthened their consumer protection laws: fortunately, if you are a resident of California and have been a victim of a defective product, the law gives you protection. This law is known as the Product Liability Act.

This legal instrument protects the consumer considerably, since it allows all parties involved in the production, distribution and marketing process of the product that has been reported as defective to be held responsible: from manufacturers and those responsible for manufacturing, to distributors and retailers. In this way, the consumer concerned can demand compensation, as there will always be a person responsible for the misfortune that has occurred.

Each of the parties mentioned above must ensure that the products they offer will not cause any damage, as long as they are used properly. When companies fail to comply with this, the affected consumer can sue them, demanding compensation not only for economic damages, but also for non-economic damages.

However, they will not stand idly by when a consumer files a lawsuit against them: they will hire the best lawyers and do their best to minimize the amount of compensation. For this reason, it is necessary that you, as a consumer and affected person, hire an excellent legal professional, specialized in this type of cases. These professionals can be easily found on Avrek. We will help you to get a fair settlement.

The three categories of defective products

strict liability

The categorization of defective product cases is as follows:

1) First of all, we find defective products due to design defects.

2) Secondly, we have cases of defective products caused by failures in the assembly or manufacturing process.

3) Finally, there are cases of defective products caused by the absence of notification of product risks. Companies often promote their products without informing about the possible consequences of their use. This is why this category is also known as “defective products by marketing”.

Strict liability and defective products

The legal figure of “strict liability” is used in many scenarios, with defective products being one of them. Simply put, strict liability means that a person, group of people, institution, company, etc. can be found guilty regardless of whether he or she has taken preventive measures. In other words, it is irrelevant that the defendants tried to prevent harm, for it is already done and they must be held responsible.

What impact does the figure of strict liability have on the affected consumer? Basically, it means that the consumer can easily achieve a fair settlement of damages. We say “easily” because the affected person does not have to present evidence of the negligence of the accused. He just has to prove that he was using the product properly.

Although strict liability is found in California law, you should not rule out hiring a lawyer. A legal process for seeking compensation is not easy from any point of view, so it is always necessary to seek the advice of a professional and highly experienced lawyer.

For example, one of the key aspects of these legal proceedings is, as we have said, the presentation of evidence confirming that the consumer was indeed making regular use of the product. But it’s not as simple as it sounds. For these tests to be valid, they must meet 4 conditions:

1) The first condition is that they demonstrate that the product concerned was not in its original state. Ergo, that it was adulterated or modified in some way.

2) The second condition is that this modification is a defect. The fact that a product is not in its original state does not mean that it is defective. This is why evidence must be presented that such adulteration resulted in a defect.

3) The third condition is that they demonstrate that the defect of the product did cause injury or death (if any) to the consumer.

4) And the last condition is, of course, that they show that the consumer was actually affected. We mean, proving he was hurt. Companies will attempt to underestimate injuries or wounds so that the amount of compensation is significantly lower.

There is no doubt that the knowledge of an expert lawyer is highly required to ensure that the evidence presented meets these four conditions. If it does not, the case will become more complicated and tedious; and an adequate settlement of compensation will look rather distant.

Although strict liability is the legal figure that is handled in most cases, some lawyers decide to base their case on other legal figures, which may include negligence; failure to comply with express guarantees (those that are written); and, finally, failure to comply with implied warranties (situation that occurs when the product in question does not conform to minimum requirements).

Defective products in the vehicle area

At Avrek we want to place the magnifying glass on defective products in vehicles. The trend in these cases is upward and the consequences are devastating. While we cannot do anything from this rostrum to avoid them, we can provide information about these cases (which are the most common, etc.) and provide a legal perspective on the matter.

Vehicle accidents are usually caused by driver negligence; that is, most vehicle collisions are caused by inappropriate and irresponsible driving. However, some of these collisions are due to vehicle defects: some of them are faults in the manufacturing process and others are defects in architecture and design. When this happens, a collision can occur regardless of whether the driver is responsible.

Naturally, people report these vehicle failures to the company responsible for assembling them. Unfortunately, people make the report once the damage has already been done: people seriously injured or killed.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) publishes reports on this situation. According to these official documents, the following are the most common defects:

  • Problems with ignition (vehicle inadvertently turns on or off). This is a defect that often occurs in General Motors vehicles.
  • Problems in the steering system. These defects result in a loss of control by the driver. In 2015 Hyundai was forced to take 200,000 vehicles off the market precisely because of steering system failures.
  • Problems with acceleration, causing sudden changes in vehicle speed. This defect was most often found in vehicles assembled by Toyota between 2005 and 2010.
  • Tyres that break or crack easily, resulting in dangerous loss of driver control.
  • Defects in the operation of the windscreen wipers.
  • Vehicle seat problems. For example, broken shoulders.
  • Faults in the cable system that can cause fires, as well as defects in the vehicle’s lights.

What damages are covered by a settlement agreement?

To finalize this article, we will explain in detail the damages that can be repaired with a fair settlement agreement. These damages can be classified into three types: economic, non-economic and punitive damages.

1) Economic damages: Related to medical expenses (the cost of short and long term treatments, as well as medicines and others), the replacement of lost wages due to physical incapacity to work; and all expenses derived from medical bills or labor documents.

2) Non-economic damages: Also called intangible damages, they are all those related to psychological problems, such as suffering, pain, depression, sadness, unhappiness, anxiety, loss of the capacity to enjoy life, among others. These damages cannot be quantified, i. e. they cannot be expressed in monetary terms, so their calculation is not that simple.

3) Punitive damages: As its name indicates, they are all those that are executed to penalize the company in those cases in which the defective product originated from a very serious or too obvious failure. Punitive damages are a measure of retaliation and scarring.

Our attorneys are the most suitable for these situations because they can collect and organize all the necessary documentation on economic, non-economic and punitive damages. For example, non-economic damage must be determined by a group of experts in the psychological field. And a skilled lawyer knows which ones to contact and how to do it quickly and efficiently.

They are able to present this evidence in an appropriate and convincing manner, increasing the likelihood of reaching a settlement that will greatly benefit you. These qualities can be found in the profile of any of our professionals, so do not hesitate to contact us so that we can provide you with the best advice.

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