Birmingham Design Defects Lawyers
You should never have to worry that using a product will cause you injury, illness, or death. Whether it’s a household appliance, children’s toy, or piece of machinery, all product designers have a duty to design safe products. When the design creates a danger for the user, the product designer should be held liable for the resulting injuries.
At Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP, we understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll that an injury could have on you and your family. We will help you fight for justice and seek the maximum compensation you deserve.
For more than 20 years, our legal team has created effective legal plans to fulfill our clients’ legal goals. We want to ensure that the product designer does not evade responsibility for the harm and suffering they caused. You should not have to deal with the consequences of their negligent actions.
Common Products with Design Defects
The individuals that design products are responsible for ensuring their products work as intended and are inherently safe for consumers. Unfortunately, sometimes the designers focus too much on the big picture instead of the safety considerations, or they fail to test their design appropriately.
Many times, people don’t realize they’re using a defective product. It’s not always a traumatic accident that causes injuries. You could develop a disease from contact with a toxic substance and not show symptoms until months or years later. Something as simple as a poorly designed handle could result in carpal-tunnel syndrome.
Some of the most common products on the market that contain design defects include:
- Medical devices
- Motor vehicles
- Baby and children’s products
- Household appliances
- Cleaning products
- Equipment and machinery
- Prescription drugs
The Consumer Product Safety Commission regulates consumer products just as the Food and Drug Administration regulates food and drugs. There are guidelines in place that companies must follow when designing products. Unfortunately, some design defects are only discovered after someone gets hurt.
When there’s a problem with a product’s design, the CPSA must review the dangers, run tests, and determine if they need to issue a recall. Typically, it’s not until after multiple injuries or fatalities that the agency will step in to ensure the product designer is adhering to safety guidelines. Many companies ignore these rules and provide people with products they know are unsafe.
What Is a Design Defect?
A design defect occurs when there’s an error in how the product was planned, designed, and tested, making it dangerous for consumers. You cannot simply say that the product’s design caused your injury. Some products, such as guns, are inherently dangerous and could cause someone injury without a defect. You must establish that the product you used is more dangerous than it would have been without the defect.
You also have to prove there’s a safer design the company could have used to avoid causing an injury. To do this, you will need to show that there was a reasonably safer alternative that:
- Would have prevented or reduced the risk of injury, death, or property damage without impairing the product’s utility
- Was economically and technologically feasible when the product left the product designer’s or seller’s control
- The feasibility was possible by using existing or reasonably achievable scientific knowledge during production
There are multiple parties involved in getting products onto retailers’ shelves, but it all begins with the design. Companies that knowingly distribute products with a defective design could become liable if someone gets hurt.
Steps to Take After a Design Defect Causes Your Injury
If the defective design of a product causes an injury, you should follow the steps below if you want to pursue compensation from the product designer. This process can be complicated and confusing for anyone unfamiliar with product liability cases. Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP will assist you in completing these steps, so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries.
- Step 1 – Keep the product as evidence. Do not dispose of it or try to repair it.
- Step 2 – Hire a Birmingham design defects lawyer.
- Step 3 – See a doctor for an evaluation of your injuries. If the doctor refers you for additional treatment, follow their instructions.
- Step 4 – Take photos of the design defect and product. You should also take pictures of visible injuries and property damage it caused.
- Step 5 – Take note of anyone who saw what happened. They could provide witness statements to confirm how you got hurt.
- Step 6 – Maintain copies of every document associated with your case, such as medical records and prescriptions.
When you hire Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP, we will review all the elements of your case to determine if we should file an insurance claim or lawsuit. In some situations, it might be best to reach an adequate settlement with the insurance company. If they deny the claim or provide a low settlement amount, we can file a lawsuit.
We will thoroughly investigate the product and its design to determine the exact cause of your injury. We can speak with experts and get their opinions on whether there’s a defect and the risk it poses to consumers.
Determining the Maximum Compensation Available
Dangerous products can cause physical, emotional, and financial losses. If you can sufficiently prove a design defect caused your injury, you would be entitled to various damages. There are two main types: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are expenses, such as:
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Property damage
- Past and future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
Non-economic damages are physical and emotional losses, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Insurance companies have the task of determining the compensation you deserve. They will review multiple factors of your case and your total damages to determine how much they believe you should receive.
Economic and non-economic damages are available in insurance claims and lawsuits. There’s also a third type that’s only available in lawsuits.
Punitive damages intend to punish the at-fault party instead of compensating the victim for their losses. A jury will only award punitive damages in your product liability case if you can provide clear and convincing evidence that the product designer acted with wantonness, oppression, malice, or fraud.
Filing a Lawsuit in Alabama
Suing someone for the design defect in their product requires following a strict deadline known as a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations in Alabama is two years. You must file your lawsuit within two years of the injury date. Otherwise, you could lose your right to a financial award.
However, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations that would allow you to file suit after the deadline passes:
- The defendant left the state before you had a chance to file. The clock would begin when they return, and their absence would not count towards the two-year statute.
- You were under 19-years old or declared insane at the time of the incident. The clock would not start until you turn 19 or are declared sane.
- You could not have reasonably known about your injury or illness. The clock would start to run on the date you discover the product’s defective design caused an injury or illness.
The last exception is known as the discovery rule. There are times when it isn’t apparent that an injury occurred. For example, let’s say you were using talcum powder regularly for several years. It contains asbestos fibers, and you end up developing mesothelioma — but don’t show symptoms until many years after you began using it. You could use the discovery rule to file a lawsuit against the product designer, since you didn’t know the product caused your injury until after the statute had passed.
Let Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP Advocate for Your Legal Rights
Our Birmingham design defects lawyers will stand by you in the fight to hold the product designer liable for their actions. We know you’ve been through a traumatic experience and suffered a great deal. You likely took time off work to recover and now worry about how you’re going to afford your medical bills. If you have a family, your physical limitations might prevent you from caring for them. It’s a stressful ordeal, and you can count on us to help you get through it.
With over two decades of experience with product liability cases, we can handle every step of the legal process to ensure we prove a defective design caused your injury. We will not rest until we reach a favorable outcome in your case and recover the maximum financial compensation you need.
If you sustained injuries from a defective product, call Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP at (205) 324-1212 today to schedule your free consultation with one of our Birmingham design defects lawyers.