Product liability laws in California are oftentimes called the most confusing laws in the state. But once you truly delve into how product liability laws work and what parties can be held liable for your injuries suffered as a result of using a defective product, it all begins to make more sense.
One of the most frequently asked questions we get here at the Licata & Yeremenko, A Professional Law Corporation is “Who you can sue in a product liability case?” In other words, who can be named as the defendants in your claim when trying to recover damages for your injuries?
This is the question we asked our California product liability attorney. Here is what he has to say about this.
Should You Be The Purchaser?
Before we jump right into answering the question, let’s get something very urgent out of the way. One of the most common misconceptions that still exists in America is that you can sue the manufacturer of the defective product – as well as other parties – as long as you are the purchaser of the product, and have the so-called contractual relationship with the supplier or manufacturer.
While this was one of the requirements to file a lawsuit back in the day, it no longer exists in California. Today, you can file a product liability lawsuit against the responsible parties as long as the product was sold to someone. Meaning: if you get injured using a defective product that was bought by your friend or even a complete stranger, you may still be entitled to monetary compensation.
Who Are The Responsible Parties In Product Liability Cases?
Any party in the defective product’s chain of distribution can be sued for manufacturing, assembling, installing, testing, supplying, and selling the product to consumers. Generally, the list of responsible parties includes but is not limited to:
1. The main manufacturer of the defective product.
2. Smaller manufacturers of components and parts.
3. The party responsible for testing the product before distributing (if any).
4. The party responsible for assembling or installing the product.
5. The Wholesaler.
6. The retailer and store that sold the product.
Do note, however, that you can bring a product liability lawsuit only against individuals whose business has been officially registered. Meaning: you will most likely not be able to sue someone who manufactures and sells products at his garage (though if this was the case, you may want to seek the legal advice of a California product liability lawyer to find out if other laws and liabilities apply).
California’s Statute Of Limitations In Product Liability Cases
If you or your family member have been injured as a result of using a defective product, there is a certain limitation period for bringing a claim against the responsible parties. In California, the statute of limitations for product liability is two years from the day you were injured or the injury was discovered. Since injuries may not be immediately apparent, other limitations may apply in your particular case. For this reason, it is important to be legally represented by a professional to determine whether or not you can still sue the liable parties. Generally, you may not be able to file a lawsuit more than 10 years after the product was put into circulation.
Three Types Of Product Liability Claims In California
But do not be too quick to identify the responsible parties unless you have evidence to prove that the defect falls into one of these categories of product liability defects:
1. Manufacturing defect: any of the parties in the distribution chain made an error, making the product defective, flawed, unsafe, and otherwise potentially dangerous for consumers.
2. Design defect: the product – as well as the entire line of similar products – comes with a defective design and is inherently dangerous, useless, or unreasonably hazardous for consumers.
3. Failure to warn: failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions warning the consumer against a hazardous use or instructing consumers on how the product should be used to avoid injuries or harm.
Let our California product liability attorney at the Licata & Yeremenko, A Professional Law Corporation determine which type of defect is applicable in your product liability case as well as identify all parties that can be held liable. Call our offices at 818-783-5757 (SE HABLA ESPAÑOL) or fill out this contact form to get a free consultation.