Types of Product Liability Claims in Washington State

Categories: Product Liability

Types of Product Liability Claims in Washington State

Businesses connected to a product can be legally responsible for ensuring that their products are reasonably safe for consumers. Companies falling short of this legal obligation can be liable for defective product claims.

When you suffer an injury due to a defective product, you can be left with serious consequences. These include severe injuries, lost wages, expensive medical bills, and emotional distress.

After suffering an injury from a dangerous product, don’t try to handle everything yourself. Trust the Washington defective product attorneys at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner with your defective product claims. We are here to discuss your legal options.

Commonly Defective Products

Any product can suffer a defect that may cause harm to you or someone in your household. Examples of products that are common in product liability claims include:

  • Vehicle parts,
  • Prescription and over-the-counter drugs,
  • Medical devices,
  • Tools,
  • Recreational and sports gear,
  • Toxic food,
  • Household equipment,
  • Children’s toys, and
  • Household chemicals.

When a product injures you, it is critical to understand the cause of the defect. Knowing the cause of the defect will help you determine who is liable for your injuries. The cause of your injuries can even dictate the types of damages available as well as the evidence required to prove your case.

Types of Defective Product Liability Claims

A product can be defective in many ways. Under Washington law, product defects typically boil down to a few categories.

  • Design defects—a claim that the injuries resulted from a product’s defective design and that every product in question is affected by an unsafe design;
  • Manufacturing defects—defects that impact only a portion of the products because something went wrong during the creation and assembly process and the final product did not adhere to the design; and
  • Marketing defects/failure to warn—certain products are inherently dangerous even if they are designed as safely as possible, so when companies manufacture and sell these items, they must provide clear instructions and adequate warnings to diminish potential risks.

When a defective product injures you, you may not know which product liability theory applies. It’s important to hire a Washington product liability attorney to investigate your case. Your product liability lawyer can evaluate your claim and work with experts to determine how or why the product was defective.

Theories of Product Liability in Washington

If an incident relating to defective property occurs in Washington, the Washington Product Liability Act (WPLA) governs the claim. This law provides four ways to hold another party responsible for injuries due to a defective product. The WPLA is the exclusive remedy for any product liability claim in Washington. Under the WPLA, a plaintiff may bring a product liability claim under several theories:

  • Negligence/risk-utility test,
  • Inadequate warnings or instructions,
  • Breach of warranty, or
  • Consumer expectations.

When examining your claim, your attorney should consider each legal theory to determine which, if any, applies in your case. Plaintiffs in product liability cases will often use multiple available theories to seek recovery.

Negligence/Risk-Utility Test

A plaintiff can assert the risk-utility test theory to prove that a product is defective. A Washington court can hold a company liable for defective product claims if the plaintiff can prove that the chance of an injury multiplied by the seriousness of the potential injuries is more costly than it would be for the company to use an alternative, safer product design. This theory of liability focuses on the practicality and feasibility of an alternative design.

Inadequate Warnings or Instructions

Under the inadequate warnings or instructions theory, products must include proper warning labels and provide adequate safety instructions. If the manufacturer learns of additional safety information about the product following the sale, the manufacturer must reach out to consumers to ensure their protection. A plaintiff must prove that the manufacturer or retailer failed to include all warnings or instructions regarding the product that caused the injury.

Breach of Warranty

Contract law also provides a theory of liability for defective products. Companies can be held strictly liable for defective products under contract law. Warranties are promises that businesses make about a product. For example, suppose a company breached a warranty. If a product sold with a warranty harms a consumer as a result of a breach, the company can be held liable for the injured consumer’s damages.

Consumer Expectations Standard

Under the consumer expectations theory of liability, a plaintiff must prove that a product is not sufficiently safe. The product is not considered safe if the ordinary consumer does not consider it sufficiently safe. To assert this theory, an injured victim is not required to prove the availability of an economically viable alternative design.

Statute of Limitations for Product Liability Claims in Washington

You have a limited time to bring a product liability claim. Under Washington law, you have only three years from the date of injury to bring a product liability lawsuit. Limited exceptions apply that could provide more time. To protect your claim, seek legal representation on your claim as soon as you can. The sooner you consult with an attorney, the sooner a legal team will investigate your claim, gather evidence, and engage the appropriate expert witnesses.

Compensation Available for Available Victims

Depending on the circumstances of your product liability claim, we may be able to help you obtain compensation for both economic and noneconomic damages, including:

  • Medical bills,
  • Future medical expenses,
  • Long-term disability,
  • Chronic pain,
  • Lost current and future wages,
  • Pain and suffering,
  • Loss of enjoyment of life, and
  • Emotional distress.

Under Washington law, victims of defective products can seek compensation for the full extent of their losses. Obtaining compensation from large companies is a challenging task, and you can’t afford to go it alone. Injured victims should work with an experienced Washington product liability lawyer.

Contact Our Washington Product Liability Attorneys Today

If a defective product injured you or a loved one, please contact Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner. We will work to hold the responsible parties accountable. We will help position you to recover the financial compensation you deserve.

The stakes are high in product liability cases. You must be prepared for the lengthy litigation process, so need the support of a firm with the resources to fight back against those responsible for your injuries. Our legal team will educate you on your rights following a thorough evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of your claim.

If a dangerous product causes you a severe injury, your best option is to navigate the product case with an experienced firm like Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner. With over 40 years of experience delivering world-class legal support, we are ready to handle your case from start to finish. Please call or contact us online to schedule a consultation to determine if you have a case.

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Matt Conner

Matt Conner has a proven track record of success. Following his graduation from Willamette University with a double major in mathematics and economics, Matt worked as an economist for the Office of Economic Analysis for the State of Oregon before moving onto working in mortgage banking and real estate.