When consumers in California or elsewhere use the items they purchase, they can expect those items to work properly and safely. A manufacturer, distributor or others involved in an item’s journey from factory to warehouse to store shelves may be held accountable for damages if they knowingly make a defective or dangerous product available to consumers. This comes under the umbrella of product liability law.
When a consumer suffers injury after using a purchased product, he or she may have grounds to file a product liability case if evidence shows that a third party was responsible for damages. Sometimes, it is one individual who files a claim. Other times, there may be a class action lawsuit where a group of people join as plaintiffs to seek compensation for damages. Some cases settle out of court; others go through litigation.
Family awarded nearly $5 billion in punitive damages
In 1999, General Motors (GM) was ordered to pay billions in punitive damages to a family who sued the company after suffering injuries in a motor vehicle collision. The court ruled that GM knew the vehicle in question had a defect that caused its gas tank to explode upon impact. The six plaintiffs had suffered severe burns when their gas tank exploded after getting hit from the rear.
Another large settlement for product liability was more than $3 billion, which Dow Corning paid plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit regarding injuries caused by defective breast implants. Philip Morris company was ordered to pay a woman with cancer $28 billion in punitive damages for failing to warn her of the dangers involved in using their tobacco products. The company was able to get the amount lowered to $28 million on appeal. These are just a few examples of some of the biggest product liability cases in U.S. history. Anyone considering filing such a claim will want to seek counsel with an experienced injury attorney before heading to court.