What Must I Prove in a Products Liability Case

Georgia law states that “the manufacturer of a product that is sold as new property may be liable or responsible to any person who is injured because of a defect in the product that existed at the time the manufacturer sold the product”. However, a manufacturer of a product is not an insurer, and the fact that a product may cause an injury does not necessarily make the manufacturer liable. To recover damages under this rule, a person injured by an allegedly defective product must establish the following three elements by a preponderance of the evidence:

  1. the product was defective,
  2. the defect existed at the time the product left the manufacturer’s control, and
the defect in the product was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury.”

There is no single general way to define what constitutes a defect in a product. Whether or not a product is defective is a question of fact to be determined by the jury, in each case.

If the products case is based on a manufacturing defect, Georgia products liability law provides that A design defect is different than a manufacturing defect. A manufacturing defect refers to a failure in the manufacturing process such that the object being produced is not produced in the manner in which it was designed and as such becomes dangerous to consumers. Such a defect may occur because of the use of shoddy materials, poor manufacturing methods, or other such actions or omissions by the manufacturer. A manufacturing defect may be indicated by comparing the questioned product to properly manufactured items in the same product line.

Further, “a product may be found to be defective because of its particular design. Although a manufacturer is not required to ensure that a product design is incapable of producing injury, the manufacturer has a duty to exercise reasonable care in choosing the design for a product. To determine whether a product suffers from a design defect, a jury must balance the inherent risk of harm in a product design against the utility or benefits of that product design. The jury must decide whether the manufacturer acted reasonably in choosing a particular product design by considering all relevant evidence, including the following factors:

  1. the usefulness of the product;
  2. the severity of the danger posed by the design;
  3. the likelihood of that danger;
  4. the avoidability of the danger, considering the user’s knowledge of the product, publicity surrounding the danger, the effectiveness of warnings, and common knowledge or the expectation of danger;
  5. the user’s ability to avoid the danger;
  6. the technology available when the product was manufactured;
  7. the ability to eliminate the danger without impairing the product’s usefulness or making it too expensive;
  8. the feasibility of spreading any increased cost through the product’s price or by purchasing insurance;
  9. the appearance and aesthetic attractiveness of the product;
  10. the product’s utility for multiple uses;
  11. the convenience and durability of the product;
  12. alternative designs for the product available to the manufacturer; and
  13. the manufacturer’s compliance with industry standards or government regulations.

If the jury then decides that the risk of harm in the product’s design outweighs the utility of that particular design, then the manufacturer exposed the consumer to greater risk of danger than the manufacturer should have in using that product design, and the product is defective. If after balancing the risks and utility of the product, a jury finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the product suffered from a design defect, then the plaintiff is entitled to recover.

Another area that gives rise to successful products liability claims involves inadequate warnings. Georgia law requires that The duty a manufacturer owes to consumers is to give an adequate warning or known or reasonably foreseeable dangers that can occur from the use of its products. This duty to warn applies to all people that the manufacturer can reasonably foresee using or being affected by the product. A manufacturer’s duty to warn may be breached by

  1. failing to provide an adequate warning of the product’s potential dangers or
  2. failing to adequately communicate to the ultimate user the warning provided.

Further, a “product, however well or carefully made, that is sold without an adequate warning of such danger may be said to be in a defective condition. If a jury finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the manufacturer did not warn or did not adequately warn when a warning should have been given, then the jury may find the product to be defective for that reason, and the plaintiff is entitled to recover.

That was a very brief and by no means complete summary of some of Georgia’s products liability laws. The point is this: long gone are the days of “caveat emptor” (“Buyer beware”). Manufacturing defect is the usual ground upon which a products liability claim is based. A simple way to think of the difference between a manufacturing defect case and a design defect case is this: if one consumer’s motorcycle explodes after turning the ignition key, this would be argued to have a manufacturing defect; alternatively, if all cars of that model blew up when started, that would be a design defect case. Finally, if it’s a failure to warn case, the car that sometimes explodes on ignition without huge lettering on all parts of the car would be an inadequate warning case. No matter which theory, the injured plaintiff must prove that there was a product defect when it was introduced in commerce and that this defect brought about injuries to injured plaintiff.

Just about any product can give rise to a products claim. As with all personal injury cases, a successful products liability accident victim may be entitled to damages, which include:

  • Real and Personal Property damage
  • The Full Value of Life for a wrongful death
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Physical and Emotional pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium for loss of love and affection, society and companionship

If you have been injured by a defective and dangerous product, call our injury claims lawyers in Atlanta now, at 404-622-5337.

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