We all know about the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit – but, did you know the victim suffered such severe burns that she needed skin grafts to recover? She also spent eight days in the hospital after the ordeal.
These types of lawsuits may get a bad rep in the media, but they serve a distinct purpose. As a result of the lawsuit, McDonald’s now serves coffee at a safer temperature. If you get hurt by a product, then it’s worth it to seek justice and compensation.
You’ve already been hurt and suffered losses, but seeking compensation isn’t as easy as you first thought. How do you know if you can file a claim or a lawsuit? How do you get started? Should you hire a Utah product liability lawyer?
If you’re looking for answers, then you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’ll answer nine of the most frequently asked questions regarding Utah product liability laws.
How Do I Know if I Have a Utah Product Liability Case?
When you’re injured by a product, it’s natural to blame the person who sold it to you. Despite that, not every product-related accident meets the legal conditions necessary to seek out a lawsuit.
In Utah, companies have a legally mandated duty to NOT sell dangerously defective products. This duty has been upheld by the Utah Supreme Court multiple times and the duty extends to any company in the distribution chain: manufacturers, retailers, distributors, and wholesalers.
However, Utah product liability cases can get tricky if you have:
- Damaged or altered the product
- Used the product in an unforeseen or uncommon way
- Ignored warning labels or product instruction
A lawyer can help you determine if you have a Utah product liability case. They’ll analyze the facts and details surrounding your product and your injury.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have a Utah Product Liability Case?
If you think you have a claim, then it’s time to act. Start by creating a file. Collect documents that will back up your claim. This includes medical bills, documentation from your employer about missed work, your doctor’s diagnosis, and receipts or proof of the product you purchased.
This file will become crucial as you move along in the process. You should also consider hiring a Utah product liability lawyer to represent you. Once you have these two things in place, you’ll be in a good place to approach the responsible party about compensation.
What Information will an Attorney Ask me for?
When you and your attorney meet to discuss your claim, you’ll want to be as honest as possible. You’ll need to provide the following details to your lawyer:
- The date you were injured
- Your doctor’s diagnosis
- Purchase information for the product (receipts, location of purchase, date)
- How you used the product
- How the injury has impacted your life
Reach out to Creekside Injury Law now if you’re ready to get started.
Is There a Time Limit for Bringing a Utah Product Liability Claim?
When you’ve suffered an injury, it’s not easy to start working on a claim right away. Despite that, you only have a limited time to pursue a lawsuit against the responsible party in Utah. The statute of limitations for product liability claims in Utah is two years.
This two-year period begins when you discover, or should have reasonably discovered, the injury and its cause. In most situations, that means the clock starts ticking the moment you get a diagnosis from a doctor and realize where the injury came from.
What happens if you don’t realize a defective product caused an injury until years later? This situation is more common than you’d think. Several conditions, like cancer, aren’t apparent until years after you came into contact with the product.
In these situations, it’s best to speak with an attorney about what happened. The specific facts surrounding your injury, the defective product, and the time that has passed will all dictate whether you’ll be able to seek out a claim or not.
Who Can I Go After for my Injuries?
A product passes through many hands before ultimately ending up on the shelf. Errors can happen at any step of the process. For that reason, determining which party holds legal liability after an injury can be a real challenge.
Here are a few of the potential parties that could be held liable for damages:
- The product’s wholesaler
- The product’s distributor
- The retailer who sold the product
- The manufacturer
Often, these parties are corporations or major business entities. Corporations can be held liable, but it’s likely that they’ll have their own expert legal teams prepared to challenge your claim every step of the way. If that’s the case, then you need to hire representation of your own.
It’s important to discuss the specifics of your case with an attorney to determine which party or parties you can hold accountable. Legal liability will hinge on factors specific to your claim.
Am I To Blame?
As you can imagine, not every product-related injury gives rise to a lawsuit. Sometimes, the consumer’s own misuse of a product causes an injury. At other times, the consumer ignores posted warnings. If that’s the case, then the injured person can’t seek out compensation.
Here are a few things to discuss with your attorney:
- Did you modify the product?
- Did you damage the product before use?
- Did you fail to notice a posted warning on the product?
- Did you read the instructions on the product before use?
- Were you using the product in an unusual or unexpected way?
By answering these questions, you’ll give your attorney a good idea of how your own behavior influenced the product-related injury. You should still speak with an attorney even if you think you were partially to blame for the incident.
Are There Different Types of Product Liability Claims?
Utah’s courtrooms recognize three different types of product liability claims:
- Defectively manufactured products
- Defectively designed products
- Failure to warn or instruct consumers about a product’s dangers
Each claim is based on the fact that you were injured by a product. They differ, though, based on when the defect occurred that later resulted in the injury. A defect or error could happen as a result of the product’s design, manufacturing, or consumer use.
Defectively designed products are inherently dangerous. In this type of claim, you need to prove that a design flaw caused your injuries. Your argument must show that all the products on the shelf have the same flaw, and they’re all equally dangerous.
Defectively manufactured products are dangerous because of a factory error. In this type of claim, you need to prove that the factory who created the product made a mistake. The product itself may be safe, but you need to show that the injury-caused product was different than others on the shelf.
In the final type of product liability claim, consumers get injured when they aren’t aware of a product’s dangers. In short, you’ll need to argue that you weren’t warned about the risks or dangers of using the product that caused your injury. These types of lawsuits are the reason why you’ll find warning labels on most products today.
What Kind of Compensation Can I Get for a Utah Product Liability Case?
After you were hurt by a product, you’re likely wondering if pursuing compensation is worth your time and effort. To make this decision, you need to know how much your claim is worth. Here’s a breakdown of the types of compensation you can get in a product liability case:
- Compensatory damages
- General damages
- Punitive damages
Compensatory damages reimburse you for every financial loss you suffered due to your injury. This includes things like your medical bills, lost wages, prescription costs, loss of household services, and any diminished earning capacity.
General damages compensate you for other types of harm you suffered. It’s more difficult to put a monetary value on general damages. Emotional distress, the seriousness of the injury, disruption to normal life, enjoyment of life, scarring/disfigurement, pain and suffering, and spousal companionship all fall under the scope of general damages.
Punitive damages are the final type of compensation you could get awarded in court. These damages are only used as a financial penalty against the responsible party. By design, they’re intended to deter the entity’s behavior in the future. Courts in Utah are only likely to award punitive damages when the other party was intentionally malicious, willfully negligent, or intentionally fradulent.
If you’re still unsure about how much your products liability claim is worth, then consider reaching out to a Utah product liability attorney. They’ll help you estimate the monetary value of your losses.
How Does the Whole Process Work?
After an injury, the losses really start stacking up. On top of your physical pain, you’re likely missing time off work and having trouble meeting your family obligations. As if that wasn’t enough, you’re the one who must take the initiative to seek out the money you deserve.
You’re likely wondering – how does the whole process work? What should I expect when I speak with a lawyer?
At Creekside Injury Law, we know what you’re going through. Here’s how the whole process works from start to finish:
- We’ll meet with you and discuss what happened
- Our office will analyze the case and determine whether to investigate
- If we decide to move forward, then we’ll ask you to sign an attorney-client contract
- We may ask you to share your medical records
- Our office will inform the liable parties about your accident
- We will help you compile evidence to strengthen your claim
- We’ll attempt to negotiate with the responsible party and reach a settlement
- If needed, then we’ll file a lawsuit
If you present a strong enough case in the beginning, the responsible party will often offer a reasonable settlement. We know how important it is to get your money as soon as possible. Sometimes, we can negotiate with the other party and come to an agreement without ever having to go to court.
If the other party isn’t willing to settle, then we’re prepared to argue on your behalf in court. Whatever it takes, our office will work hard to get you the money you deserve.
How Will I Be Able to Pay You?
You were the one who got injured. Yet, the financial burden of seeking out representation and filing a claim is often on your shoulders. We understand the situation you’re in. We do not require any up-front payment.
Instead, our office works on a contingency fee basis. That means we only get paid when you get paid. On top of that, we take a lower percentage of your overall settlement award than other Utah law firms.
Do You Have Questions About Utah Product Liability Laws?
When you buy a product off the shelf, you expect it to be safe. Despite that assumption, harmful products cost the United States over $1 trillion annually.
If you do get hurt, you have options. Utah product liability laws protect consumers. They give you the right to seek compensation in civil court. Depending on your circumstances, you could get reimbursed for any medical bills, lost wages, or suffering that you endured.
While you have the right to seek a lawsuit, going up against a major company’s legal team can feel pretty intimidating. A Utah product liability lawyer will help you strengthen your case and negotiate with the responsible party.
We will fight to ensure you’re compensated fairly. If you’re considering hiring a Utah product liability lawyer, then reach out to our office now to discuss your case. Together, we’ll ensure justice is served.
DISCLAIMER: this article is for general informational purposes only. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship with the reader. No representations or warranties are made about the accuracy of this article.