Damages & Compensation in a Defective Product Case

If you were caused injury by a defective or dangerous product, you have an avenue for compensation for your damages through a product liability claim.

Damages in a Product Liability Case

Whether a plaintiff settles a product liability case outside of court, or receives a favorable ruling after a jury trial, damages (compensation) should include the following:

Medical Bills. This should include all the medical treatment costs a plaintiff has already incurred to date, as well as any expected future medical expenses (including for ongoing physical therapy, or other rehabilitative treatment).

Lost Wages. This would include compensation for time missed at work because of the injuries, and any time missed because of medical appointments. If the injury will result in an ongoing inability to work or a limitation in the plaintiff's future ability to earn income, this too should be considered and compensated.

Pain and Suffering. While not easy to put a dollar value on, these damages are intended to compensate the plaintiff for pain, discomfort, and other negative effects of the injuries and necessary medical care.

Emotional Distress. Similar to pain and suffering, these damages are meant to make up for the anxiety, stress, depression, sleeplessness, and other psychological effects of the injuries.

Product Liability Class Actions

Often, when a product harms one person, it harms many. For example, if a pharmaceutical company manufactures a drug that ends up having unexpected and dangerous side effects (one not listed in the litany of side effects recited in the commercials) it is unlikely that only one person is going to be affected. So, a class action lawsuit might be possible in cases like these.

Class actions allow for cases to be brought together when it wouldn't make sense to bring them individually, which provides greater accountability on the part of manufacturers, especially when the harm suffered isn’t as serious as that stemming from a dangerous drug.

For example, Apple faced a class action lawsuit for its first generation iPod when the battery life wasn't as promised. No individual iPod owner would have felt it worthwhile to file a lawsuit against Apple for a product that cost a few hundred dollars, but because all of the plaintiffs could join together for a class action case, Apple was held responsible and all of those people received compensation either in the form of a $50.00 gift certificate or in the form of free iPod repair.

Famous Product Liability Cases

Because of the potential that a large amount of people will be affected, and because class actions for defective products have become pretty common, there have been a few notable and significant product liability cases grabbing headlines in recent years. Here’s a quick look at a few:

  • Merck & Co. paid out over $4.85 billion dollars to settle approximately 50,000 lawsuits related to a defective drug called Vioxx.
  • In Glen Vereen v. Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc., a $6.5 million settlement was reached between Lowes and a number of homeowners who had purchased defective Chinese drywall.
  • In a 2004 Texas Case, Bridgestone/Firestone paid out a settlement of more than $149 million to resolve 30 class action lawsuits over defective tires.

If you believe you have been injured by a defective product, you should consider speaking with a lawyer. Your attorney can help you understand what options you have for recovering damages, including who the most appropriate defendants would be. Product liability cases can get pretty complex from a legal and procedural standpoint, so an experienced attorney can prove invaluable. 

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