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How to Pursue a Product Liability Claim

By Greg Kohn

Accidents can happen anywhere, any day. When a person gets injured or killed because of a defective or dangerous product, the manufacturer or seller of that item could get held accountable for the harm they caused. Product liability claims are a sophisticated type of litigation because they often require the use of expert witnesses, like engineers and medical professionals.

You will want to talk to a New Jersey product liability attorney about your potential product liability case. People who try to handle product liability claims on their own without an attorney often get their cases thrown out of court on technical or procedural issues. This blog will provide a quick overview of how to pursue a product liability claim. 

New Jersey Law On Product Liability

Our state has a specific statute that addresses dangerous or defective products. The New Jersey products liability act allows people to receive compensation if they got injured from a product that was not “reasonably fit, suitable or safe for its intended purpose.” Under New Jersey law, an item is not reasonably fit, suitable, or safe for its intended purpose if it falls into at least one of these categories:

  • The design of the product was defective. You must prove that there was an alternative way to design the item and minimize or eliminate the risk of danger, or that the danger of the product outweighs its benefits.
  • Whether the design was defective or not, the manufacture of the item was defective. For example, the manufacturer did not follow the design specifications or the maker used inferior materials or parts to make the item. 
  • The product did not provide adequate instructions or warnings. An item that requires assembly should include assembly instructions so that the item does not collapse when used. Some products are inherently dangerous, like chainsaws, but the manufacturer has a duty to warn of the risks.

Often, proving these issues requires the use of experts in the field of product design, manufacture, or engineering. 

Important Things to Know About a Product Liability Claim

There are limits to a manufacturer’s liability for their products. For example:

  1. If a person makes substantial modifications to the product after the item leaves the manufacturer’s or seller’s control, and the aftermarket modifications contribute to the hazardous condition of the item, usually, the manufacturer or seller will not be liable. 
  2. The manufacturer or seller can also escape liability if the injured person used the product in a manner for which it was not intended or for a use that was not reasonably foreseeable. For example, if a person sits on a chair and gets injured, the maker or seller might be liable, unless the individual set up the chair on a steeply slanted roof before sitting on it. Chairs are not intended to get used on a steeply slanted surface like a roof.
  3. If the item contains adequate warnings, but the injured person did not read the product materials that contained the warnings or read them but ignored them, the individual will likely be found to have assumed the risk of injury from the product. 
  4. If the manufacturer used industry-standard design and manufacture of the item, in other words, there is no better or safer way to make the product, they probably did not commit a design defect or manufacturing defect. In that situation, we would have to investigate the warnings that came with the product.
  5. People who are successful in product liability claims in New Jersey can recover money damages for things like medical bills, lost wages, disability, pain and suffering, and other losses. 

You could talk to a New Jersey personal injury attorney about your claim. We are happy to offer a free initial consultation with no obligation. Reach out to our office today for a free initial consultation.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.