Your Trial Advocates - We Fight for You
Schedule Your Consultation

Understanding Product Liability in New York

In an ideal world, every product we buy and use would operate flawlessly and safely. Unfortunately, reality is far from perfect. Every year, countless individuals in New York and across the country are injured by defective or dangerous products. These injuries can range from inconvenient and minor to debilitating, life-altering, or even fatal.

As a consumer, you trust manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers to provide safe, quality products. When that trust is broken, and you or a loved one is hurt as a result, it can be a confusing, frightening, and overwhelming experience. Understanding product liability laws in New York can be the first step towards reclaiming control and seeking the justice you deserve.

The Basics of Product Liability Laws in New York

In New York, a party can be held liable for any injuries caused by a defective product if they are in the business of selling or distributing that product. Furthermore, New York follows the 'strict liability' doctrine, meaning that a victim does not have to prove the manufacturer's negligence; they only need to demonstrate that the product was defective and that the defect caused their injury.

There are generally three types of product defects that can lead to liability:

  • Design defects: These are inherent flaws in the product's design that make it unsafe for use.
  • Manufacturing defects: These occur during the production process and result in the product deviating from its intended design.
  • Marketing defects: These involve inadequate warnings, misleading advertising, or insufficient instructions that prevent the consumer from recognizing potential risks.

If you've been injured by a defective product in New York, it's crucial to contact an experienced product liability attorney as soon as possible. They can guide you through the legal process, help gather the necessary evidence, and advocate for your rights, ensuring you get the compensation you deserve. In addition, New York has a statute of limitations for product liability claims, which puts a deadline on how long you have to take legal action. This underscores the need for swift action following a product injury.

Who is Liable in a Product Liability Case in NY?

In product liability cases in New York, various parties along the product's supply chain could be held liable. This typically includes:

  • Manufacturers: These can be manufacturers of component parts, assemblers, or manufacturers of the entire product.
  • Distributors: Wholesale and retail outlets that distribute the defective product to consumers.
  • Installers or servicers: Any party involved in the installation or servicing of the product could also be at fault if their work led to the defect causing the injury.

Manufacturers are the closest to the product creation process, and hence, are often held accountable for any defects that may occur. They are responsible for ensuring the safety and quality of their products before they reach the market. If a defect arises due to a flaw in the design, manufacturing process, or due to inadequate warnings, the manufacturer can be held liable.

Distributors, including wholesalers and retail outlets, are responsible for making sure the products they sell are safe for consumers. They should be vigilant about the products they purchase for resale. If they sell a defective product to a consumer, they can be held liable for any resulting harm. This is true even if the distributor had no knowledge of the defect, as part of their responsibility is to ensure they only deal in safe, reliable products.

Installers or servicers could be held liable if their work resulted in a product defect causing injury. This could happen if they incorrectly install a product or service it inadequately, thus causing it to malfunction. It's important to note that liability could be split among several parties in a product liability case. Each case is unique, and an experienced attorney can help ascertain the parties responsible for a product-related injury.

How to Prove Fault in a Product Liability Claim

In product liability cases, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff - the individual who sustains an injury due to a defective product. The plaintiff must demonstrate that the product was indeed defective, and that the defect directly resulted in their injury. Ascertaining these elements can be challenging, but it's essential for a successful product liability claim.

To prove fault in a product liability claim, the following points must be clearly established:

  • Product defect: The plaintiff must demonstrate that the product was defective. This could be a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or a marketing defect.
  • Product use: The plaintiff should show that they were using the product as intended or in a way that the manufacturer could reasonably expect.
  • Causation: It must be proved that the product defect directly resulted in the plaintiff's injury.
  • Injury: Lastly, the plaintiff must provide evidence of the injury they sustained.

Product liability claims often involve complex technical issues that require expert testimony. Experts in fields such as engineering, manufacturing, and product safety might be needed to substantiate the presence of a defect and its link to the injury. In addition, medical experts can attest to the extent of the injury and its impact on the plaintiff's life. A proficient product liability lawyer can assist in gathering this evidence and building a compelling case on your behalf.

What Kind of Compensation Can You Claim in a Product Liability Case?

Victims of defective products in New York may be able to claim several types of damages in a product liability case. These can typically be categorized as compensatory damages, punitive damages, and sometimes, damages for loss of consortium.

Compensatory damages seek to return the victim to the financial state they were in before they were injured.

They are further divided into two categories:

  • Economic damages: These include medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, and property damage. They are relatively straightforward to calculate as they are based on actual financial losses.
  • Non-economic damages: These are awarded for intangible losses that do not have a clear monetary value, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Punitive damages are awarded in cases where the defendant's behavior was especially negligent or reckless. They are designed to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future. It's important to note that punitive damages are not awarded in every product liability case, only in cases where the defendant's conduct was particularly egregious.

Loss of consortium can be claimed in certain situations by the spouse of the injured party. It is meant to compensate for the loss of companionship, affection, and services of a spouse due to the injury.

Every product liability case is unique, and the kind and amount of damages you may be eligible to claim can vary. It's crucial to consult with an experienced product liability attorney who can evaluate your case, help identify potential damages, and guide you through the complex legal process.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Product Liability Claims in NY?

In New York, the statute of limitations for product liability claims is three years from the date the injury occurred. This means you have three years to file a lawsuit after suffering an injury due to a defective product. It's important to note that this timeline might not start from the date the product was purchased or even used, but from the date the injury is discovered or should have been discovered with reasonable diligence.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. If the defendant intentionally concealed the defect or if the injured party was a minor at the time of the injury, the timeline can be extended. Given these complexities, it's always a wise decision to contact a knowledgeable product liability attorney as soon as possible after an injury. They can help clarify the timeline, ensure all necessary documentation is filed correctly and on time, and advocate on your behalf.

How to Choose the Right Product Liability Lawyer

Choosing the right product liability attorney is a critical decision that can significantly influence the outcome of your case. It's essential to find a lawyer who not only has extensive experience and success in product liability law but also understands your unique situation and can offer personalized legal strategies. Look for a lawyer who has a deep understanding of New York's product liability laws and has a track record of successfully representing clients in similar cases.

At Collins Gann McCloskey & Barry PLLC, our team of dedicated attorneys has a wealth of experience in handling complex product liability cases. We understand the challenges and complexities involved in these types of claims and can provide compassionate, comprehensive legal support every step of the way.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective product in New York, don't hesitate to reach out to us online or call us at (516) 218-5131 for a free consultation today.