Product Liability Claims: How New Jersey Laws Protect Consumers
In an era where consumer goods flood the market daily, there’s an inherent trust we place in manufacturers and sellers. We expect that the products we buy, from the appliances that adorn our homes to the cars we drive, are safe and reliable. But what happens when they’re not? New Jersey laws come into play, offering protection to consumers and ensuring that they are not left high and dry in the face of faulty products. At Drazin & Warshaw, we specialize in guiding our clients through the complex landscape of product liability claims, and here’s what you need to know.
Types of Product Liability Claims
In New Jersey, as in many jurisdictions, product liability claims fall into several distinct categories based on the nature of the defect and the circumstances surrounding the injury. Here are the primary types of product liability claims in New Jersey:
- Manufacturing Defects: This type of claim focuses on flaws that occur during the production or manufacturing process of the product. For instance, if a batch of blenders has faulty wiring due to an error in the factory, this would be considered a manufacturing defect.
- Design Defects: These claims arise from inherent flaws in a product’s design. The product might be manufactured correctly and as intended, but the design itself poses a danger. An example would be a model of a car that has a high risk of rolling over due to its overall design.
- Failure to Warn (or Inadequate Warnings): Manufacturers and sellers have a duty to provide clear and sufficient warnings about potential risks associated with their products. If a consumer is harmed due to lack of appropriate warnings or instructions, the manufacturer or seller can be held liable. For instance, a medication that doesn’t clearly list its side effects or a toy that doesn’t come with age-appropriate warnings can lead to this type of claim.
- Breach of Warranty: This type of claim arises when a product fails to perform as expressly or impliedly promised. There are two main types of warranties: express warranties (explicit guarantees made by the manufacturer or seller about the product) and implied warranties (unspoken, unwritten guarantees mandated by law, like the implied warranty of merchantability).
- Strict Liability: New Jersey follows the doctrine of strict liability for product defects. This means that if a product is defective and causes injury to a consumer, the manufacturer can be held liable regardless of whether they were negligent. In other words, even if a manufacturer took all possible precautions, they could still be held responsible if their product turns out to be defective and causes harm.
It’s essential for consumers to understand these distinctions because the nature of the defect and the surrounding circumstances will dictate the appropriate legal strategy. When pursuing a product liability claim in New Jersey, it’s crucial to work with an attorney who understands these nuances and can advocate effectively on the consumer’s behalf.
Steps for Filing a Claim
If you believe you have a valid product liability claim, the process might seem daunting. However, with the right guidance and a systematic approach, justice is attainable. Here’s a step-by-step guide to navigate through the process:
- Document the Incident and Product: Before anything else, take photos of the defective product, your injuries, and the scene of the incident. Record any serial or model numbers, and keep any manuals, packaging, or receipts related to the product.
- Seek Medical Attention: Even if you believe your injuries are minor, it’s crucial to see a doctor. This will not only ensure your well-being but also create medical records that document the nature and extent of your injuries, which can be pivotal evidence.
- Preserve the Product: Do not discard, alter, or attempt to repair the defective product. Keep it in its post-accident condition as it may need to be examined by experts during the claims process.
- Gather Witness Information: If anyone witnessed the incident, take down their names and contact details. Their testimonies could be invaluable.
- Consult with an Attorney: Product liability claims can be complex. Contact an experienced New Jersey product liability attorney who can guide you through the process, investigate the claim, and identify all potentially liable parties.
- Notify the Manufacturer and Seller: Your attorney will typically send a notification to the product’s manufacturer and seller to inform them of the defect and your intent to file a claim. This isn’t a lawsuit but a formal notice.
- Investigation: An in-depth investigation will be carried out to determine the product’s defect, whether it’s a design defect, manufacturing defect, or a failure to warn. This could involve consulting with experts in the field.
- Filing the Claim: If a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached or if the manufacturer denies liability, your attorney will file a formal lawsuit in court. This will begin the litigation process.
- Discovery Process: Both sides will gather evidence, which might involve sharing documents, conducting depositions, and expert testimonies.
- Negotiations and Mediation: Before going to trial, both parties will often try to settle the claim. This could involve negotiations or even a formal mediation process.
- Trial: If a settlement can’t be reached, the case will go to trial where both sides will present their evidence, and a verdict will be rendered. If the verdict is in your favor, you may be awarded compensation.
- Appeals: If either party is dissatisfied with the trial’s outcome, they have the right to appeal to a higher court.
Always remember that New Jersey has a statute of limitations for filing product liability claims, typically two years from the date of injury. However, there might be exceptions based on specific circumstances. It’s always best to act quickly and consult with an attorney to ensure your rights are upheld.
Contact an Experienced Product Liability Claims Lawyer at Drazin & Warshaw for a Free Consultation About Your Case Today
Consumers should never be left to bear the consequences of defective products. New Jersey laws recognize this principle and have provisions to protect consumers from faulty goods, be it household items or automotive parts. Navigating the world of product liability claims can be challenging, but with a sound understanding and the right representation, consumers can find justice.
If you or a loved one has been affected by a defective product, don’t suffer in silence. Let the experienced team at Drazin & Warshaw help you navigate through your claim, ensuring that you get the justice and compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation and let us be your advocates in this journey.