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Your great-grandparents certainly wouldn't recognize the world in which you live, with drones delivering packages, cars driving themselves, and medicines that reduce pain and even cure diseases that used to cripple or take lives.

We all love modern advances. They certainly make life easier, more exciting, and presumably safer, but what happens if your drone ends up injuring you or someone else through no fault of your own - perhaps because of a malfunction? Can you file a lawsuit to recover damages?


Fortunately, California has pretty strong consumer-friendly product liability laws on the books. These laws establish strict liability standards on designers, manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers, meaning that you do not have to prove negligence on their part. They are strictly liable if their products cause injuries when used correctly or as advertised.


If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to a defective product in or around Glendale, California, or nearby in Burbank or Los Angeles, or anywhere in the San Fernando Valley or the San Gabriel Valley, contact me at Fitzgerald Law.


I have more than three decades of experience in fighting for those who lack the resources to do so for themselves. I will listen to your story, assess liability, and advise you of your options going forward to seek the compensation you need.

Understanding Product Liability


When someone mentions the term "product defect," we often envision some part of a machine or device that malfunctions because of a manufacturing issue.


Under California product liability standards, however, defects can derive from three sources: pre-manufacture (in the design itself), the manufacturing process itself, or from marketing or instructional oversights (the product lacked proper operating instructions or warnings).


Therefore, if a product injures someone who is using it correctly, different persons or entities in the supply chain can be held liable, including the designer, the manufacturer, and even the supplier or retailer. Sometimes, it can be a combination.


What Is Strict Liability?
In most cases of personal injury legal claims, the plaintiff - the person injured - must show that the defendant - the one accused of causing the injury - was negligent or reckless. In other words, they failed to exercise a reasonable duty of care not to cause injury to others through their actions or inactions.

Under the principle of strict liability, the defendant - product designer, manufacturer, or retailer - need not be shown to be negligent. Instead, a product liability lawsuit only needs to show that:

  • The defendant designed, manufactured, distributed, or sold a defective product.

  • The defect was present when you acquired the product.

  • You used the product in a reasonably foreseeable manner.

  • You suffered harm or injury from using the product.


Though this sounds simple, once the issue gets to court (if it's not settled prior to litigation), attorneys for the defendant will make various claims that you yourself caused your injuries by using the product in an unsafe manner, or that you modified the product. Another defense they might raise is that you were a "sophisticated user" and should have known the product was dangerous.


What Is Considered a Product?
Products need not be only physical objects that we operate or use for our personal benefit or entertainment, such as gardening or workshop tools, or even drones. Contaminated food products are also covered under product liability statutes. So too are medicines and medical devices that result in adverse effects.


The California Civil Code, however, precludes lawsuits for product liability under two circumstances:

  1. The product is inherently unsafe and the product is known to be unsafe by the ordinary consumer who consumes the product with the ordinary knowledge common to the community.

  2. The product is a common consumer product intended for personal consumption, such as sugar, castor oil, alcohol, and butter.


The same section makes it clear that it "does not exempt the manufacture or sale of tobacco products by tobacco manufacturers and their successors in interest from product liability actions, but does exempt the sale or distribution of tobacco products by any other person, including, but not limited to, retailers or distributors."


Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for filing a product liability lawsuit for personal injury is two years from the date of the injury. For property damage, the statute extends to three years.

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