Defective Products — Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
In Pennsylvania, as in all other states, manufacturers have a responsibility to the users of their products to ensure that the product is reasonably safe for its intended (or foreseeable) uses and that — if the product exposes users to some inherent danger — there are adequate warnings and instructions to help users understand the risks of injury and avoid such risks. If a manufacturer fails to meet their duty under the law, and this failure contributes significantly to your injuries, then you may be entitled to recover damages.
Product liability claims are rarely straightforward. Oftentimes, product liability claims are brought against defendant-manufacturers who have extensive financial and legal support resources. Not only are these manufacturers well-equipped to respond to a product liability lawsuit, but they are generally willing to defend against defective product claims aggressively so as to prevent others from coming forward. As such, it’s important that you work with a skilled defective product attorney who has experience successfully litigating product liability cases against corporate defendants and who has the case results to prove it. We represent clients throughout Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, Erie, and Greensburg, PA.
Interested in scheduling a free consultation with a Pittsburgh defective product attorney? Call (413) 766-1455, or fill out the online contact form, to get connected with Goodrich & Geist, P.C. today.
Q: What is the time limit for my defective product claim?
A: The statute of limitations for Pennsylvania product liability claims (defective product claims) is two years, running from the date of injury. Once the statute of limitations deadline passes, you are no longer entitled to recover for your claim. Though in some circumstances your statute of limitations period may have been suspended, in most cases you will be deemed to have relinquished your claim for recovery once the deadline passes. As such, it’s important that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible after your injury so that your defective product claim can be assessed and litigated in a timely manner.
Q: What are the different types of defective product claims in Pennsylvania?
A: There are three categories of defective product claims in Pennsylvania: 1) manufacturing defect; 2) design defect; and 3) failure to warn. Each involves substantially different assertions of wrongdoing and requires a unique litigation approach and strategy.
Q: Who decides whether a product is in defective condition, and on what basis?
A: In Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court in Tincher v. Omega Flex confirmed that it is the jurors — not the court — who decide whether a product is in defective condition. The defective product plaintiff may show that a product is defective by using the consumer expectations test or the risk-utility test.
Under the consumer expectations test, a product is defective if a reasonable consumer would find that the product did not function in accordance with expectations and was unsafe. Under the risk-utility test, a product is defective if a risk of injury that users are exposed to is greater than the utility provided by the design. A number of different factors may be weighed against each other in the risk-utility test.
Q: What damages am I entitled to pursuant to my defective product claim?
A: In a defective product claim in Pennsylvania, plaintiffs may be entitled to damages for:
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of property
- Quality of life losses
- And more
In certain circumstances where the defendant-manufacturer’s conduct was particularly egregious, punitive damages may be awarded. Punitive damages multiply the compensatory damages amount, leading to significant and disproportionately high damage recovery.
Q: Do I have to show that the defendant was negligent?
A: No, Pennsylvania law does not implement negligence-based product liability. Manufacturers may be found “strictly liable” for their defective products. This alleviates some of the burden on the plaintiff, as the plaintiff need not show that the defective product was created due to the manufacturer’s negligence. On the other hand, product liability claims are still incredibly complicated. To succeed, the plaintiff must show that the product was in defective condition, which is a difficult proposition.