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SEATTLE PRODUCT LIABILITY LAWYER

There are many situations where a person is seriously injured–or even killed–by a dangerous or defective consumer product. Washington State has strong laws in place to hold the manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, and marketers of such products liable for the damages caused by their negligence. If you are the victim of such an accident, the experienced Seattle product liability lawyers at the Khan Law Firm can help you seek compensation for your injuries.

How the Washington Product Liability Act Protects You

Although there are a number of federal safety regulations designed to ensure the quality and safety of a wide range of consumer products, product liability law remains under the jurisdiction of state law. Historically, Washington State courts applied the common law to product liability cases. But since 1981, the Washington Product Liability Act (WPLA) has provided the exclusive legal remedy for victims injured by dangerous and defective products.

Unlike many other types of personal injury claims, sorting out product liability is often made more difficult due to the roles played by multiple parties in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of a given product. For example, if you buy a toy from a local retailer and your child is subsequently injured by a defective part, do you sue the store, the manufacturer, or the wholesaler who acted as a middleman? The answer to this question will depend on many factors.

Under the WPLA, the manufacturer of a product is responsible if the victim’s injuries were “proximately caused by the negligence of the manufacturer.” This can mean a few different things:

  • The product was “not reasonably safe as designed.”
  • The product left the manufacturer’s control in a condition that “deviated in some material way from the design specifications or performance standards of the manufacturer” or of the “same product line.”
  • The product was unsafe because the manufacturer did not include “adequate warnings or instructions.”
  • The product did not “conform to the manufacturer’s express warranty” or an implied warranty created under Washington State law.

In determining whether or not a product is “reasonably safe” for purposes of the WPLA, a judge or jury is expected to look at the case from the viewpoint of an “ordinary consumer.” But when a victim raises a product liability claim based on defective design, the court will also need to consider whether or not there was “an alternative design that was practical and feasible” under the circumstances. In other words, the victim needs to show that the potential costs to injured consumers outweighed the costs of the manufacturer using a safer design to accomplish the same objective.

Similar considerations apply to product liability claims arising from a manufacturer’s failure to provide adequate instructions or warnings. The WPLA states a manufacturer is liable if it fails to exercise “reasonable care” in notifying customers of a defect that is discovered after a product is manufactured. This means that a manufacturer cannot simply sit on knowledge that there is something wrong with its product–it has an affirmative legal duty to warn anyone who may purchase or use the defective item.

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OTHER PRACTICE AREAS

CAR ACCIDENTS

BICYCLE ACCIDENTS

BRAIN INJURIES

BUS ACCIDENTS

TRUCK ACCIDENTS

DRUNK DRIVING INJURIES

MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS

DOG BITES

WRONGFUL DEATH

Who Else Can Be Held Liable Under the WPLA?

The WPLA states that a “product seller other than a manufacturer” may be liable for damages in certain circumstances. Specifically, a victim can sue a seller if he or she can prove their injuries were the result of:

  • the seller’s direct negligence;
  • the seller’s breach of an express or implied warranty; or
  • the seller’s “intentional misrepresentation of facts about the product,” which includes deliberately concealing information.

A seller can also be sued in cases where:

  • the original manufacturer is insolvent (bankrupt);
  • a judge determines there is little to no likelihood of the victim enforcing a damages award against the manufacturer;
  • the seller and the manufacturer are related companies (i.e., one is a subsidiary of the other); or
  • for defective design claims, the manufacturer produced the product according to “plans or specifications” provided by the seller; or
  • the seller sold the product under its own trademark or brand name.

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What Compensation Can I Seek in a Product Liability Lawsuit?

Like any personal injury claim, the victim of a dangerous or defective product is entitled to compensation for the full amount of their losses. This will obviously depend on the facts of each particular case. But some of the more common categories of product liability damages include:

  • Medical Expenses – As we all know, hospital bills following an accident can quickly spiral out of control, especially if you lack adequate health insurance. That is why you can seek compensation not only for your past medical bills related to an injury caused by a defective product, but also any estimated future costs of care.
  • Loss of Income – If an accident forces you to miss work for any length of time, you are entitled to recover any lost wages, as well as any future loss of your earning capacity due to your ongoing injuries.
  • Non-Economic Damages – The trauma of an accident goes far beyond what doctors can physically heal. That is why a court may award victims non-economic damages to cover their pain and suffering, emotional distress, and overall loss of enjoyment of life.
  • Wrongful Death – If a victim dies as the result of a defective or dangerous product, their next-of-kin and estate may pursue damages for wrongful death, which includes funeral and burial expenses, loss of the victim’s companionship and care, and loss of future income.

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Speak with Our Product Liability Lawyers in Seattle Today

Product liability lawsuits are complex. They often require expert testimony to establish a manufacturer or seller’s liability. And the defendants are often large, well-funded companies that can afford to litigate a victim’s claim for several years. This is why it is critical to work with a Seattle product liability attorney who understands the Washington legal system and will fight for the best interests of you and your family. Contact the Khan Law Firm if you have been injured by a defective product and would like to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team today.