NJ Products Liability Attorneys Fight for Injured Consumers
Accomplished trial lawyers hold powerful corporations fully accountable
When you buy a consumer product, you have the right to expect it will be safe for any reasonably foreseeable use. Unfortunately, every year, manufacturers place dangerous, defective products on the market, injuring hundreds of thousands of consumers and even causing wrongful death. If you’ve been injured by a defective product, you are entitled to recover personal injury damages, such as medical costs, lost earnings, and compensation for your pain and suffering. But holding a large corporation accountable for their misdeeds is a daunting task. These companies are determined to protect their bottom line, so they defend products liability cases vigorously. You have a tough burden of proof, and they have deep legal resources and many defenses under the law. Under such circumstances, you must retain knowledgeable, skilled, and determined representation to fight for your rights. At Brach Eichler, we have a strong track record of success against powerful opponents. We have recovered more than $183 million dollars in compensation for injured clients, including large recoveries for victims of defective products.
Common defective products causing harm to consumers in New Jersey
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates the overall costs of defective products to be as much as $700 billion annually. Common products with defects that frequently injure consumers include:
- Auto parts, such as ignition switches, gear shifts, brakes, tires, and airbags
- Children’s toys, clothing, and furniture
- Hot water heaters
- Household appliances and electronics
- Industrial and household chemicals
- Medical devices
- Power tools
Our attorneys have managed cases of serious injury arising from the failure of a product. We are prepared to manage cases related to car crashes, explosions, fires, poisoning, electric shock and electrocution, chemical burns, and a wide range of other harm.
Types of defects in New Jersey product liability cases
There are three types of product defects for which an injured consumer can recover compensation:
- Design defect — Cases of this sort deal with a poor plan for a product, so that there is an inherent flaw in the conception of the product that renders it unreasonably unsafe.
- Manufacturing defect — In these cases, the design was sound, but a problem with the manufacturing process produced a flaw that makes the product unreasonably unsafe. The defect can be due to poor materials, workmanship, or process.
- Labeling defect — When a product is inherently dangerous, it can be rendered reasonably safe if there are adequate warnings about the risk. However, when the warning labels fail in their purpose to alert the consumer, producers can be liable for label/warning defects.
With defective products, producers are usually held to a strict liability standard, so the plaintiff does not have to prove the producer was negligent. Rather, to prevail in a products liability case in the Garden State, a plaintiff must prove these four elements:
- The product was defective
- The defect existed when the product left the defendant’s control
- The defect caused the plaintiff’s injuries
- The plaintiff was a reasonably foreseeable user
These elements require precise proof, which generally relies on expert testimony. We consult a range of experts in the specific field related to the type of product that produced your injuries to assemble the evidence necessary to make your case. However, our task is further complicated by case law and defenses available to the producer.
Common defenses available in a NJ defective product case
To illustrate how complex a defective product case can be, let’s look at what it takes to prove a design defect under New Jersey law. First, the Supreme Court of New Jersey has placed the burden on the injured plaintiff to prove that at the time a product was defectively designed, a reasonable alternative to the design existed. This requires technical knowledge that plaintiffs (and lawyers) generally do not have. The testimony of a reliable expert is critical to the success of the case. If the plaintiff meets this burden, there are still numerous defenses available to the defendant:
- Unavoidable unsafe aspect/product — A manufacturer cannot be held liable for a design defect if the defect relates to inherent characteristics of the product that an ordinary consumer would know to be unsafe, or if the harm resulted from an unavoidably unsafe aspect of the product and the product was accompanied by an adequate warning or instructions. Courts have held that “unavoidably unsafe products” are those which “in the present state of human knowledge, are quite incapable of being made safe for their intended and ordinary use. … Such a product, properly prepared, and accompanied by proper directions and warning, is not defective, nor is it unreasonably dangerous.” In such a case, the plaintiff must show the warning was inadequate, rendering the product unreasonably unsafe.
- Misuse of product — A manufacturer is not liable for harm resulting from the intentional misuse of a product in a manner which the manufacturer could not reasonably have anticipated. However, foreseeable misuse is not a defense. NJ courts take an expansive view of what is foreseeable misuse, so that is good news for the plaintiff.
- Alteration of a product — Generally, plaintiffs are not barred from filing a products liability claim even if they made a significant alteration of the product. However, manufacturers are not liable when the change itself created the defect that caused the injury.
Plaintiffs in products liability cases must also be aware of the two-year statute of limitations for personal injury in New Jersey. Injured parties must file a lawsuit within two years of the date of injury or lose their right to sue. Under certain circumstances, such as a latent injury, the statutory period may be extended. For cases of defective home construction, there is also a 10-year statute of repose. Plaintiffs have no cause of action against a contractor if a defect in construction causes injury more than 10 years after improvements to real property have been substantially completed.
All of these rules are highly technical and require specific knowledge of the law. This is why you should immediately refer your products liability claim to a proven law firm with the resources necessary to successfully manage the case.
Contact our determined personal injury lawyers in NJ for your products liability claim
If a defective product has caused injury to you or a loved one, the seasoned attorneys at Brach Eichler Personal Injury are prepared to pursue the full compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation with a skilled and aggressive attorney, call us today at 973-364-8300 or contact us online.