What is a Product Liability Lawsuit?

Posted in: Product Liability | Sep 15,2022

Consumers in Indiana have a right to expect products to function as intended and not cause harm. However, when a defective product causes a serious injury, the manufacturer or seller may be liable. To hold them legally accountable, you will need an experienced injury firm to help you file a product liability lawsuit. This post will answer “what is a product liability lawsuit?” and explain some of the nuances related to them.

The Indiana Product Liability Act

The laws governing product liability cases vary state by state. In Indiana, the Indiana Product Liability Act establishes the rules one must follow to bring a product liability claim against a manufacturer, marketer, or seller of a consumer product. The Indiana Product Liability Act includes the legal definition of a defective product, the elements of a product liability claim, the statute of limitations, defenses against a product liability claim, and more. This is one reason why it is important to have an attorney with years of experience handling product liability claims; failure to follow the guidelines set forth by the Indiana Product Liability Act could result in the dismissal of your claim. Additionally, an attorney unfamiliar with the defenses a manufacturer or seller may use to avoid liability could lose your case for you. 

Indiana Product Liability Lawsuit Statute of Limitations

Under Indiana law, you have two years from the date of the injury to file a product liability lawsuit. Furthermore, you must file your claim within ten years of buying or receiving the defective product. If the injury occurs between eight and ten years after purchasing the product, you will have two years from the date of injury to pursue a case. 

Types of Product Liability

Here are three main categories, or types of defects that can result in a product liability lawsuit in Indiana. According to the Indiana Product Liability Act, a product can be considered defective if it meets at least one of the following conditions:

Design Defect – Products with a design defect contain an inherent flaw that makes them unsafe, even when used as intended. 

Manufacturing Defect – Products with a manufacturing defect, though designed to be safe, suffer from shoddy construction, contamination, or some other flaw during the manufacturing process that results in a dangerous defect. 

Failure to Warn – Manufacturers or sellers can be liable if their products do not contain an appropriate warning about foreseeable hazards associated with using the product. Likewise, an absence of adequate user instructions can amount to a failure to warn. 

Product Liability Lawsuit Examples and Famous Cases

Common types of products involved in product liability lawsuits include:

● Children’s toys and furniture, such as the IKEA dressers that were prone to tip-over accidents

● Pharmaceuticals, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter medications, such as Zantac, which was found to cause cancer

● Automobiles and auto parts, such as the Takata airbag cases or the GM ignition switch mass tort

● Personal care products, such as the Johnson & Johnson baby powder lawsuits

● Household cleaning products and lawn care chemicals, such as the cases against the makers of Roundup weedkiller

● Electronics and appliances, including phones and e-cigarettes, that overheated and exploded 

● Medical devices and implants, like the IVC blood clot filters that fractured inside patients

Strict Liability in Defective Product Cases

One can make two types of claims in a product defect case: negligence and strict liability. In a negligence case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care, the defendant violated that duty of care, and the plaintiff suffered injury and damages as a result. In a strict liability case, one must show that the product was dangerous, that the condition existed at the time the product left the defendant’s control, and it caused the plaintiff’s injury. Strict liability claims in Indiana are limited to manufacturing defect claims. A seller cannot be held liable in a strict liability case unless the seller is also the product manufacturer. 

Damages in a Product Liability Lawsuit

By filing a product liability lawsuit, victims of dangerous products can recover damages to compensate for their losses while holding the at-fault party accountable for the harm they caused. Three types of damages are available in a product liability lawsuit: economic, non-economic, and punitive. 

Compensatory Economic Damages

Economic damages are a form of compensatory damages designed to reimburse the plaintiff (victim) for the financial losses they suffered due to the defective product. These include:

  • Medical bills and the cost of future treatment related to the injury
  • Lost wages for time missed from work
  • Future lost income resulting from diminished earning power. 

Compensatory Non-Economic Damages

Injured victims and their families are also eligible to claim non-economic compensatory damages. These include things like pain and suffering and emotional distress. 

Punitive Damages

In a product liability case, it is rare to receive punitive damages, except for the most egregious instances in which the defendant intentionally or knowingly caused harm or acted with extreme negligence. In Indiana, there is a cap on punitive damages for product liability: three times the compensatory damage award, or $50,000, whichever is greater. 

The Bottom Line

Attorneys at Montross Miller have handled cases involving unsafe products of all kinds, from automotive parts to children’s toys, for decades. We can identify the responsible parties and determine the full extent of your damages, and we will answer your questions and advise you each step of the way. We will also conduct all necessary discovery and investigation, prevent destruction of evidence, consult with industry and medical experts, and take your case to trial if necessary. 

Whether you were injured by a medical device, recalled auto part, piece of furniture, electronic appliance, or other product, our experienced attorneys can guide you through this difficult time and help you find a path forward. Contact us today for a free consultation.