Guide to filing a defective product lawsuit in Georgia
When a product that you purchase is faulty, and its faulty operation causes injury or damage to your property, you may be entitled to bring a type of personal injury lawsuit to receive compensation. The company that manufactured the product may be liable to you for damages.
In order to prevail in a product liability lawsuit in Georgia, it is important to understand the different laws under which you can bring such a lawsuit.
Strict product liability in Georgia
Under the strict liability theory of defective product law, the plaintiff is not required to prove fault on the part of the behalf of the defendant. You will have to demonstrate the following:
- That the defendant was responsible for manufacturing the product,
- That the product was in a defective state when it left the manufacturer’s control, and
- That the injury resulted from the product’s defective condition.
Negligence law in Georgia
Under a negligence theory, there are 4 elements that have to be met in order to prevail in a lawsuit against a manufacturer for liability.
- Duty. Did the defendant owe you a duty of care?
- Breach. Did the defendant breach that duty of care owed to you?
- Causation. There are 2 forms of causation: cause in fact and proximate cause. You must be able to prove that the breach of the defendant’s duty of care led to the events precipitating the lawsuit.
- Damages. Finally, there must be actual damages, either in the form of personal injury or property damage (or both) in order to prevail in a negligence lawsuit.
Types of defective product claims
Under the law in Georgia, a product may be defective in 3 different ways.
This describes a flaw or defect in the inherent design of the product, where a risk of harm was created for consumers based on the actual design. An example may be an appliance with the wrong type of power cord and so it is invariably likely to result in a fire hazard.
This is a defect that occurs within the actual assembly or production process for a product, thereby resulting in a potential risk.
Failure to warn
This type of defect results when a manufacturer fails to take reasonable steps to warn consumers of a reasonably foreseeable harm that may result from the normal use of a product. For example, warning consumers that they should not consume a product that is toxic when ingested, or warning consumers that small parts may be a choking hazard.
How to win a product liability case in Georgia
Regardless of which type of defect you are dealing with, the types of evidence required to win your court case are virtually consistent across the board. There are 4 essential elements that you will need to meet in order to be successful in your product liability lawsuit:
- You will need to provide sufficient evidence to show that the product was defective when the injury occurred.
- You will need to be able to prove that the defective condition of the product was responsible for the injury or property damage.
- You will need to prove that when the injury occurred, that the product was still in a condition that was “substantially similar” as when it left the possession of the manufacturer. For example, if you made a structural modification or change to the product and then the injury occurred as a result, you will not prevail in your lawsuit.
- Finally, you will need to be able to prove that you were using the product the way that it was intended to be used, or in a manner that the manufacturer would reasonably foresee it to be used, in order to be successful in your lawsuit.
If you can demonstrate these 4 elements with substantial proof, then it is more likely you will prevail in your Georgia products liability lawsuit.
What statutes (laws) govern defective products in Georgia?
Georgia product liability law is codified in O.C.G.A § 51-1-11. Here you will find all the inner workings of the law and some specific rules that must be understood when bringing suit in the products liability realm. Under this section of the Georgia tort law, the statute describes a number of important governing provisions for product liability.
For example, privity is not required in product liability actions. This means that no contractual relationship is required between the manufacturer and the injured party. Put differently, the person who was injured by the product can be your spouse or child and you can still bring a suit against the manufacturer as the purchaser.
The statute also dictates important time limitations, which typically bar lawsuits after 10 years from the date of the first sale for use or consumption, except in certain circumstances. You may require the assistance of a lawyer in order to fully understand what you are reading.
When to consult a Macon product liability lawyer
Consulting with an attorney who is well-versed in this particular type of law will give you access to greater understanding of whether you have a case, given your particular set of circumstances since every product liability case in Georgia is unique and requires specialized knowledge.
If you have become injured or sustained property damage due to a defective product and want to find out if you have a case, sit down and speak to one of our team members at Westmoreland Law today to find out what your options are.