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Seattle Product Liability Attorney
When we choose to purchase a product from a Seattle store, on the internet, or from another trusted source, we expect that the product will live up to our trust-related expectations. We expect that the manufacturer, designer, vendor, and every other person along the chain command did their best to ensure that the product does not cause injury or harm — but unfortunately, this is not always the case.
When you suffer an injury as a result of a defective product, you can suffer from serious consequences — including severe injuries, lost wages during recovery time, expensive medical bills, and other emotional, physical, and financial damages. However, you have the option to recover compensation for your damages by filing a defective product lawsuit against the parties responsible for your injuries.
Why Choose Colburn Law
In these situations, trust Colburn Law to represent your Seattle defective product case. Our firm has assisted residents of Seattle and the surrounding areas with their personal injury cases since we opened our doors, helping people like you collect the compensation they need to recover from their injuries.
- Our attorney Greg Colburn knows firsthand what it’s like to recover from a severe personal injury — he suffered a fall due to the negligence of a subcontractor, and now helps Seattle residents file claims against the parties responsible for their injuries. He will take the time necessary to learn your story and build a compelling case on your behalf.
- Colburn Law combines the resources and power of a large firm with the personalized attention and open communication of a small firm. We will be available to answer your questions and guide you through each step of your case.
- Our firm operates on a contingency fee basis for maximum affordability and to limit your out-of-pocket costs. We will not charge you any legal fees unless we secure a settlement on your behalf.
Washington State Product Liability Act
If you suffer a product defect-related injury in Washington state, the Washington Product Liability Act (WPLA) is an important piece of legislation to understand. This law governs the process of filing a defective product lawsuit against the parties responsible for your injuries, and helps you understand which legal remedies you can receive. Washington lawmakers enacted the WPLA in 1981, and this law has been in place to protect consumers ever since.
One of the most difficult aspects to product liability cases is determining who exactly is responsible for your injuries, and whether or not you can hold him or her accountable in your lawsuit. In many cases, you can hold the manufacturer, retailer, or wholesaler responsible — and your lawsuit may include one or more defendants.
The WPLA helps define who shares liability when a defective product harms a consumer. The manufacturer is responsible for your injuries if the cause of your injuries was due to the proximate negligence of the manufacturer. To define proximate negligence, the WPLA gives the following examples.
- The design of the product was not reasonably safe and its design contributes to the danger it poses to a consumer.
- The manufacturer failed to include reasonable warnings or instructions before releasing the product to the consumer.
- The product left the manufacturing plant in a condition that does not meet the performance standards or design specifications that the manufacturer defines, and the condition that the product is in poses a danger to the consumer.
- The product did not conform to the implied warranty from the state of Washington or the expressed warranty from the manufacturer, and the deviation poses a danger to the consumer.
For your defective product-related injury to qualify for legal remedies under the WPLA, the judge and the jury will look at how an ordinary consumer would have engaged with the product. Depending on the nature of the defect and your injuries, they may also look at whether or not the product was reasonably safe, whether the manufacturer took necessary steps to warn consumers about foreseeable dangers and inappropriate usage, or whether or not the manufacturer could have designed the product in a safer way.
While the above considerations involve the manufacturer, you can also hold other parties involved in the sale of the defective product under the WPLA — but only under specific circumstances. You can file a claim against a seller of the product if you can prove that your case involves one of the following scenarios.
- The defect and your injuries are a result of the seller’s direct negligence.
- The seller breached an implied or expressed warranty in some way related to your injuries and the defect.
- The seller intentionally misrepresented the facts about the product, or deliberately concealed information about it, and this act led to your injuries.
- The manufacturer is bankrupt and you cannot file a claim against them.
- The manufacturer and seller are related to each other business-wise.
- The seller provided the specifications for the design of the product.
- The product was under the seller’s brand or trademark.
The WPLA presents a significant piece of legal knowledge that you will need to understand before filing a product liability lawsuit. To ensure that you have reasonable grounds to file a claim and to determine who you could hold responsible, contact Colburn Law today to discuss your case.
Common Types of Defective Products
Any product can suffer a defect that may cause harm to you or someone in your household — including sports equipment, e-cigarettes and vaping devices, household appliances, electronics, and more. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs, children’s toys, clothing, and playground equipment may also have defects that can cause severe harm to the consumer.
The specific type of product that caused your injuries is important to know in a product liability lawsuit. However, it is equally important to understand the cause of the defect — this piece of information can help you determine who is liable for your injuries, the types of damages you can collect, and the evidence you must gather to prove your cases.
Typically, there are three main types of product liability cases in Washington state.
- Design Defects: These claims involve injuries that are the result of a product’s defective design. Defective design cases differ from manufacturing defects because the defect in question is part of the product’s specifications. For example, an electric blanket made with flammable material would be a design defect.
- Manufacturing Defects: These claims involve injuries that are the result of a manufacturing error that occurs before the manufacturer releases the product to the public. For example, a batch of cough medicine that contains a toxic ingredient accidentally added during productionq2 would be a manufacturing defect.
- Failure to Warn: Some products are inherently dangerous if a consumer uses them in a certain way; for example, ingesting cleaning products would lead to poisoning or operating a power tool without securing a certain mechanism could lead to severe injury. In these situations, manufacturers must provide adequate warnings and instructions to their consumers to avoid injury. If a product could pose a foreseeable risk to the consumer and the manufacturer fails to provide these warnings, they could be liable for any injuries.
What Compensation Can You Claim in a Defective Product Lawsuit?
You can claim compensation for any damages you suffer directly related to the product defect injury. The specific funds you can claim will depend on the circumstances of your case, but in general, Washington law allows you to claim both economic and non-economic compensatory damages.
Economic damages refer to the tangible monetary losses you suffer as a result of your defect-related injuries. Some of the most common economic damages you can claim in a product liability case include the following.
- Past and future medical expenses, including medications, surgeries, doctor’s visits, and physical therapy treatments
- Disability accommodations, such as a live-in caregiver, modifications to your home or vehicle, and other long-term care
- Lost wages during recovery time, along with future loss of earning capacity if the injury prevents you from working
- Property damage sustained during the accident
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, involve the damages you cannot provide tangible evidence for, but still impact your daily life. Some of the most common non-economic damages you can claim in your lawsuit may include the following.
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Disability or disfigurement
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- The development of mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety
- Chronic pain
How to Prove Negligence in a Product Liability Case
To successfully prove a product liability lawsuit, you and your attorney will need to work closely together to establish the negligence of the at-fault party or parties. Because of the WPLA, proving negligence in these claims may differ from how other state courts handle product liability cases.
There are four main ways you and your lawyer can establish negligence in a product liability case.
- Your attorney can use the Negligence/Risk-Utility Test to hold the at-fault party accountable. Under this theory, your attorney will present evidence to prove that the company’s design of the product was unreasonably dangerous. He or she will also prove that the risk of injury was greater than the cost of an alternative, safer design, it would have been practical and feasible for the company to use the safer option, and the at-fault party is therefore negligent.
- Your lawyer can base your case on the lack of inadequate warnings or instructions. In these cases, your attorney will need to prove that the at-fault party failed to provide the necessary warning or instructions that would have helped you avoid the injury, and that the warnings or instructions were necessary for the safe use of the product.
- If your case involves a warranty issue, your lawyer can hold the at-fault party liable by using contract law. With an implied or expressed warranty, a company makes certain promises about the product and if your injuries are a result of the product failing to uphold that promise, you can file a claim on these grounds. Your attorney will need to prove that the warranty made a claim, the product’s performance failed to honor this claim, and you suffered your injuries as a result.
Since proving a product liability lawsuit can be complex in Washington state, it is important to contact Colburn Law as soon as possible to begin developing your case. Your attorney can help you collect and access necessary evidence, identify the liable parties in your claim, and determine which avenue is your best option toward optimal possible compensation.
Statute of Limitations for Product Liability Lawsuits
In Washington state, all civil lawsuits must adhere to the applicable statute of limitations, a deadline that limits the time in which you can file your claim. If you fail to file your claim within this time limit, the court will very likely refuse to hear your case, and you may lose your chance at claiming the compensation you need to recover.
These rules are in place to protect all parties involved in a case. For defendants, it protects them against decades-old cases coming back to harm them in the future, and for plaintiffs, it helps ensure that you file when the evidence is still fresh and more likely to be available.
For product liability lawsuits, you must file your claim in Washington civil court within three years of the date of your injury. While exceptions to this rule may exist in rare cases, it is important to contact Colburn Law to help you file your claim as soon as possible after your injury to ensure you meet this deadline.
Contact Colburn Law Today
Are you suffering from the aftermath of a defective product injury? Choose Colburn Law to represent your lawsuit in Washington civil court. Our firm can provide a number of benefits to help you increase your chances of obtaining compensatory damages in your product liability case.
- Defective product cases often involve numerous potential defendants. Colburn Law can help you investigate the cause of the defect to determine who is liable for your injuries.
- Proving your lawsuit will involve presenting evidence and taking advantage of resources you may not have access to. Colburn Law has the authority, network, and knowledge to help you strengthen your case.
- You may not know which damages you qualify for, leading to a lower settlement than you need. Colburn Law can help you explore each pathway to maximum compensation, helping you understand which funds you can claim.
Contact Colburn Law today to schedule your free consultation and strategize your next steps. Our attorney will gladly meet with you at our offices in Issaquah, or an alternative location upon request.