In every type of personal injury case, plaintiffs must be able to show that the defendant was responsible for causing their injury. Plaintiffs can commonly resolve their claims out of court by entering into a settlement agreement with the responsible party or its insurer. In the event that plaintiffs cannot settle their claim, they may litigate the matter in court. If you have sustained an injury due to a dangerous or defective product, learning more about the procedural logistics pertaining to this type of claim will help you protect your legal rights. Here are some key principles to understand about this area of the law.
In some cases, showing caution in product liability claims can be fairly straightforward. For example, plaintiffs probably will not have much difficulty demonstrating the causal connection between a design defect in a piece of equipment that malfunctions and an injury that they sustain at the moment that a malfunction occurs. In contrast, showing causation when injuries occur long after the use of a product could prove to be more challenging. Plaintiffs need to identify and collect relevant evidence illustrating the causal connections between a health condition and exposure to chemicals in consumer goods, prescription drugs, or supplements.
A lawyer can help plaintiffs gather evidence demonstrating the likelihood that a product is responsible for their condition. For example, a California Paraquat lawyer can use evidence in medical records in addition to clinical findings about the product’s safety problems. Likewise, a prescription drug product liability lawyer could utilize a plaintiff’s medical records as well as studies citing a link between a drug and a serious health condition in order to show causation.
In typical personal injury cases based on negligence, the defendant’s knowledge or mental state may be integral to showing fault. In product liability claims, whether a company knew about a product’s safety does not bear on fault. In most jurisdictions, a manufacturer is strictly liable for the injuries resulting from a design flaw or manufacturing defect, regardless of whether the manufacturer was aware of the problem.
A defendant’s knowledge about a product’s safety hazards could come into play when a court is determining the appropriate amount of damages. Knowing that a product posed an imminent risk of harm to consumers and failing to take remedial action can amount to egregious wrongdoing and thereby subject defendants to punitive damages.
A Preponderance of the Evidence
It is important for personal injury victims to understand that they do not have to prove their claim beyond a reasonable doubt. This standard of proof applies to criminal cases but not civil cases. In personal injury actions, claimants’ evidence must show that their allegations are probable. In legal terms, this burden of proof is categorized as a “preponderance of the evidence.” If you can prove that what you have asserted is more likely than not to be accurate, you will have met your burden of proof, and a trier of fact must find in your favor.
Sustaining a serious injury from a defective product can cause long-lasting financial hardship. Pursuing a legal remedy can help you get the compensation that you need.