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Product Liability

The steering column in a driver’s car is faulty and causes the driver to lose control and crash. A hair dryer overheats and catches fire, and badly burns a woman’s hand. A man’s pacemaker malfunctions and he has a heart attack.

In the modern era, virtually everything we buy, use, or consume is made by someone else — the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the toys our children play with, the equipment we use to do our jobs. It’s all manufactured somewhere using processes that have little to do with our daily lives. We don’t tend to give much thought about how things are made, or what safeguards are in place to make sure that the products we use aren’t harmful. We rely on designers and manufacturers to be aware of potential dangers and to make products so that they’re safe for our use.

When someone is injured or killed because a product was designed or manufactured in a way that made it unsafe, the person or company responsible for the defect should be held accountable. Illinois law allows for that accountability through product liability lawsuits. In a product liability lawsuit, a user or consumer who has been hurt can sue the designer or maker of the defective product for compensation. Monetary damages that may be recovered include:

  • Medical Expenses — This includes your expenses for immediate treatment of your injuries as well as the cost of future treatments you face, such as surgeries or ongoing therapy
  • Loss of Income — This includes temporary time lost from work because of your injuries, but also may include the value of your lifetime lost income if you are permanently disabled by your injuries
  • Pain and Suffering — Illinois law allows juries to place a value on the emotional distress and trauma you’re experiencing because of your injuries
  • Disability and Disfigurement — You can receive payment for any loss of ability because of your injuries, or for scarring or other impacts on your appearance
  • Loss of Normal Life — If your injuries prevent you from engaging in hobbies or activities or performing household tasks, you can be compensated for the disruption to your life
  • Punitive Damages — Less frequently, a jury may award punitive damages when the dangerous defect was the result of reckless or intentional actions by the designer or manufacturer

Pinpointing liability for your injuries can be complicated because of the many people involved in the process of designing, manufacturing, and marketing goods. Defects can happen at any point in the process and can take different forms. Illinois law allows you to recover compensation for:

  • Design Defects — When the way a product is designed makes it dangerous when used as intended or likely to malfunction in a way that is dangerous, there may be a product liability claim. An example might include failing to design the product to current safety standards or regulations.
  • Manufacturing Defects — When a product is made or assembled in a way that makes it dangerous or likely to fail, there may be a product liability claim. Examples of manufacturing defects may include the use of substandard materials when manufacturing the product or sending the product to market with broken or missing parts.
  • Failure to Warn — When a product might be dangerous to a user in some way that isn’t immediately apparent, the product should include a warning or instructions for how to use the product without encountering the danger. When a product fails to include a warning or instructions, a claim may arise when someone is injured.

To be successful in your product liability claim, you have to be able to prove that your injuries were caused by the defect. For example, if you were hurt in a car crash because your steering column was defective, you would need to show that the steering column was the cause of the accident and not some other cause like running a red light.

Some common types of product liability lawsuits we see involve defects in:

Questions about product liability? Check out our FAQs.

Product liability lawsuits can be very complicated. Proving defects can involve information that’s very specialized and technical, such as engineering schematics or blueprints, and often means that expert witnesses are needed to testify about how the product should have been designed or manufactured in order to be safe. A Chicago personal injury attorney who has extensive experience with product liability issues will be an invaluable resource if you decide to pursue a claim. At a time when your energy is best used to focus on your recovery and your family, a lawyer can handle the details of your claim from investigating your injury and gathering evidence to negotiating a fair settlement or arguing for a jury award.