Atlanta Product Liability Attorney
When you buy a new product, whether it’s an appliance for your home, a tool for the garage, a toy for your baby, or an automobile, you expect that it has been designed and tested for safety and manufactured correctly. You have no reason to think otherwise and no way of knowing if it is defective – until something goes wrong. The power of knowing whether a product is designed and manufactured correctly lies with the manufacturer, or in some cases the distributor or retailer. As a consumer, if you’ve been hurt by a product defect, you can hold these parties strictly liable for making or selling you a defective product. The Atlanta product liability attorneys at Durham Law Group have the depth and breadth of experience to take on even the largest corporations and hold them accountable for causing needless pain and suffering by releasing defective products on the market. If you believe you or a family member has been hurt by a product defect, call our Atlanta office at 404-845-3434 for a free consultation to discuss your claims.
Types of Product Liability Claims in Atlanta
Product defects generally fall into one of three different categories: design defects, manufacturing defects, and marketing defects. If a product is defectively designed, that defect is present in every unit manufactured and could potentially cause injury to thousands of people. Examples of defectively designed products include automobiles that rollover or catch fire too easily in a crash, power saws that don’t have guards or shields, and space heaters or irons that aren’t designed to automatically shut off after a period of inactivity or if knocked over.
If the product is designed correctly but manufactured defectively, the defect might reside in only one unit or thousands, depending on whether the defect was due to a single human error or glitch in the machinery, or a problem in the production line or the base materials used. Manufacturing defects have included tainted pharmaceuticals and food products mixed with bits of glass or metal, airbags that fail to deploy or send exploding shrapnel flying into the passenger cabin, or car seatbacks that break during a crash.
A marketing defect occurs when products are marketed for a purpose they weren’t designed for, such as off-label use of a prescription drug or chemical solvent. These defects also include “failure to warn” defects when product packaging fails to alert consumers about the product’s inherent dangers or how to use it properly. If the product should only be used with protective gear or in well-ventilated spaces or should not be used in combination with other products, these facts should be made clear to the consumer through product packaging, instructions, or markings on the product itself.
Manufacturers Can Be Held Strictly Liable for Product Defects
The legal principle of strict liability often applies to product liability cases. Strict product liability means manufacturers are liable for injuries caused by product defects without having to prove the manufacturer was negligent. Other theories of liability might also apply to a product liability case, including negligence or breach of warranty. An experienced Atlanta product liability attorney at the Durham Law Group will explore the best approach to holding the manufacturer liable and securing compensation for all your legal damages, including present and future medical expenses, present and future lost wages or disability, and pain and suffering.
Recovering Punitive Damages in Georgia Product Liability Cases
In addition to recovering compensation for economic damages (medical bills, lost wages) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering), Georgia tort law also allows punitive damages in appropriate cases. Most damage awards are meant to compensate the injured individual and are broadly called compensatory damages. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are meant to punish the negligent party for especially bad conduct. Punitive damages are sometimes called exemplary damages because they can also be used to set an example to others that this type of conduct is not to be tolerated in the state.
Punitive damages are not available in every case, but only where the plaintiff can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant engaged in willful misconduct or exhibited malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or the entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences. Examples of conduct warranting punitive damages might include a driver who causes a crash by driving drunk or drag racing. or a property owner who deliberately creates a dangerous condition to deter thieves that winds up hurting an innocent person.
In the context of product liability, punitive damages might be appropriate against a manufacturer that knows its product is defective yet fails to fix it and actively conceals the defect from the public or government regulators by falsifying testing data and concealing or destroying documents. Such behavior has in fact happened multiple times and has been discovered in the automotive industry, pharmaceutical industry, and elsewhere.
Most civil cases in Georgia cap punitive damages at $250,000, but this amount may mean nothing to a large corporation and might not serve to punish them or deter future conduct. Georgia’s punitive damage cap, therefore, does not apply in product liability cases, and Atlanta juries could award millions of dollars in punitive damages if they saw fit, depending on the size of the company and how bad the conduct was. Seventy-five percent of punitive damages go to a state fund and 25% go to the victim, but plaintiffs can still receive an enormous amount from a large punitive damages award.
Punitive damages must be proven by “clear and convincing evidence,” which is a tough standard to meet; other aspects of a product liability case only have to be proven by a “preponderance of the evidence.” At the Durham Law Group, our Atlanta product liability lawyers have extensive litigation backgrounds, including experience as criminal prosecutors where they had to prove cases by the highest evidentiary standard, proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Our team is prepared to put in the extra time and effort required to prove punitive damages in appropriate cases to hold corporations accountable for their shameful conduct, achieve justice for our clients, and maximize the compensation available to them.
Passionate and Dedicated Legal Help With Atlanta Product Liability Claims
If you or a family member has been harmed by a defective product in Atlanta, call the Durham Law Group at 404-845-3434 for immediate assistance. Your call is free, and our team advances all costs of litigation. You only pay a legal fee after we are successful in recovering compensation on your behalf. Hablamos Español.