Safety recalls and liability: What to do if you’ve been injured by a defective product

November 14, 2014 | 7:42 am


Across the globe, between 12 million and 17 million vehicles have been affected by the recent Takata airbag recalls. They include 10 automakers, including the giant Toyota Motor and General Motors companies. About 8 million of the recalls are in the United States.

Worst of all: A fifth death reported Nov. 13, 2014, is thought to be linked to Honda’s defective Takata airbags, USA Today reported.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has sent letters dated to the automakers, urging them to take “aggressive and proactive action to expedite” replacement airbags. The automakers are now facing class-action lawsuits. To view a list of affected vehicles, click here, and for questions and answers on the airbag recall, go here.

The Bakersfield personal injury and products liability law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles has vast experience in product defect cases. Manufacturers and retailers have an obligation to provide customers with products that are safe, but too often, companies place profits ahead of safety, and the end result is a seriously injured victim.

For years, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has provided a webpage dedicated to keeping up to date on the latest safety recalls. You can view this page here.

It’s important for consumers to know what makes a products liability lawsuit, and what to do if you suspect you or a loved one has been injured because of a defective product. Here are some tips and information related to products liability. For more information, visit this specialized website focused on products liability cases.  

There are three types of defects that create liability for defective products:

  • 1) Manufacturing defects
  • 2) Design defects
  • 3) Marketing defects.

If you are injured by a product that has any one of these defects, you may be entitled to recovery for the damages you have suffered. The most common claim made against a manufacturer is typically referred to as a “strict liability” claim. Under this theory, a manufacturer will be liable if you can establish that

  • 1) The product was defective
  • 2) The defect existed prior to the manufacturer releasing the product
  • 3) The defect caused your damages.

The products liability lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles have provided several frequently asked questions and answers related to safety recall and products cases. To view all of the questions and answers, visit the Frequently Asked Questions webpage by Chain | Cohn | Stiles here.

If I am injured, or a loved one is killed by a defective product, who can I sue?

You can sue the manufacturer of the product. Besides the manufacturer, you can sue every company that was in the marketing chain of the product, i.e., wholesalers, distributors and retailers. Any repairer of the product may also be liable.

What constitutes a defective product under California law?

A product may be found to be defective because of a manufacturing defect, a design defect, or a warning defect. If plaintiff can prove any one of these defects, he or she can win the case against the manufacturer.

What damages can I recover in a defective product case?

The injured person is entitled to recover damages for past and future medical treatment, past and future wage loss, damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress, and, if the injured person can establish bad enough conduct on the part of the manufacturer, punitive damages (i.e. damages intended to punish the business). If the injured person dies, his or her survivors are entitled to recover full compensation for their economic losses that result from the injured person’s death, as well as monetary damages which stem from the loss of society, care, and comfort of the decedent.

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If you have been injured due to a defective product, the Bakersfield products liability attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles recommend taking the following steps:

  • Keep the product and anything related to it, such as packaging, instructions, receipts, etc.
  • Take photographs of the product and the scene of the accident.
  • Verify that you were using the product in accordance with the manufacturer’s written instructions.
  • Gather the names and contact information of any witnesses.
  • Seek medical attention immediately

Once you’ve taken these steps, contact Chain | Cohn | Stiles immediately — by calling 661-323-4000, or visit the website Chainlaw.com — so that the law firm can assist you in filing a products liability lawsuit.