Product Liability

Defective or Unsafe Products and Product Liability Law in Atlanta, GA

A legal claim for product liability arises when a persons suffers a serious injury, including the loss of a limb or total disability, or death as a result of using an unsafe or defective product. A defective product is one that causes personal injuries, property damage or financial losses resulting from the product’s defect, labeling or use, and often from the manufacturer’s negligence or fraud. In addition to the manufacturer, a product’s designer and distributor are often liable for claims.

In Georgia, there are several legal theories to hold a manufacturer or seller of a defective product liable. Negligence claims may include the negligent design of a product; the failure to adequately test or inspect a product; or the failure to provide the consumer with adequate instructions, warnings or labels. A manufacturer may be held strictly liable if the product was not merchantable and reasonably suited for the use intended when it was sold. There may also be contract-based claims for the manufacturer’s or seller’s breach of express or implied warranties provided as part of the sale contract or implied by law.

Product liability cases range from the obvious (a mislabeled product that causes injury) to the not so obvious (harmful side effects from an improperly tested product). A defective product could be a tire that was defective and caused a collision, an automobile that was not crashworthy, a seatbelt that did not adequately safeguard the occupant from injury, or a piece of equipment that did not have adequate warnings and caused serious injury. While there are numerous potential areas that might give rise to a defective product claim, here are some common examples:

  • Contaminated food – manufactured food, beverages, and agricultural products (e.g., fruits and vegetables) may be subject to product liability claims if they are not properly sterilized, actively contaminated or adulterated during manufacturing or packaging and cause poisoning or other illnesses. Typically, once a defect is publicly known manufacturers and sellers of contaminated food will recall their products to avoid further exposure and risk of injury to the public. If you purchased and consumed a recalled food item, you should keep the remainder of the product and your proof of purchase in case you need to pursue a legal claim.
  • Household chemicals & products – defective household cleaners and other chemicals, personal hygiene products and even cosmetics may result in consumer injuries including skin and internal irritation or burns or more serious injuries caused by combustion or explosion of products or their containers.
  • Clothing –defects in clothing or apparel including shirts, pants, pajamas, robes, costumes, boots and footwear can range from issues regarding fire resistance, irritating fabric or faulty construction to unsafe walking surfaces, poor traction and design in footwear.
  • Machinery & Tools – use of faulty machinery and tools can result in serious injury. Examples are improperly guarded, unguarded or defective moving blades or rotors (such as in lawn care equipment), circular saws, drills and other carpentry equipment, press machines, feed belts, etc.
  • Medical Products & Devices – medical and surgical devices such as artificial knees, hips and other joints, hernia repair mesh, biological tissue, and other medical products and devices that are defectively designed or manufactured or contaminated before use on a patient can cause serious injury. These types of claims can become intertwined with medical malpractice claims, and require special legal knowledge and medical expertise to properly analyze.
  • Automotive – automobile manufacturers and component manufacturers have a legal responsibility to design vehicles and their parts to reasonably ensure driver, passenger, and pedestrian safety. Defective seatbelts, seatbacks, airbags and other safety devices, improperly designed roof structures, defective tires, and other components are examples of defective automobile product claims. Both automobile component makers and manufacturers may be held liable under different legal theories in a product liability suit.
  • Pharmaceuticals – drug manufacturers must conform to FDA regulations regarding the fabrication, promotion, and sale of a product. However, if a drug is defectively designed or manufactured or unreasonably dangerous such that its use poses an unreasonable risk of harm of harm to patients, this may allow a product liability claim to go forward despite the fact that the company followed FDA guidelines. Drug manufacturers should also alert consumers and doctors of all potential side effects of medications.

There are important time limitations that must be observed in cases involving defective products in Georgia. In general, products liability suits (other than those for post-sale failure to warn), must be filed within ten years from the date of the first sale for use or consumption of the product. For this reason, if you or a loved one is injured or killed as a result of a defective product, promptly retaining qualified legal counsel to undertake an investigation is critical. In addition, evidence must be quickly and carefully preserved including the product itself or any remaining pieces of it. It is also advisable to have photographic evidence of the product, location and, if possible, of the injuries involved. Typically, your attorney will hire an investigator and/or a photographer for this purpose. There are also experts that specialize in different products, and your attorney should retain such an expert to evaluate the product in question.

The Atlanta, Georgia attorneys at Brownstein & Nguyen have substantial experience in evaluating, handling and preparing complex matters such as products liability cases for trial and resolution. Our attorneys have the necessary experience working with experts to properly preserve evidence, analyze and assess liability and to present proof of economic and non-economic damages resulting from injuries or death caused by defective products. Click here to view some of our notable results, and click here to see what our clients say about our experience and dedication in handling their claims.

If you, a friend or loved one has been injured by a defective or unsafe product, call or contact our products liability attorneys in Atlanta today for a free consultation.