Columbia, SC Product Liability Lawyer
When people purchase a product, they presumably have certain expectations about what benefits that product will bring into their lives and perhaps a prudent understanding of where the product might disappoint them. It’s fair to say that none of those understandings of potential disappointment include being physically injured by the product. Under certain circumstances, the costs of those injuries can be recouped as part of a broader financial settlement. Our Columbia, SC product liability lawyers are experienced at proving liability and understanding what makes a fair settlement figure.
Mann Blake & Jackson has a track record of success of taking on difficult cases and winning lucrative settlements, including those of $50 million or higher. Past success never guarantees future outcomes, but that success does say something good about our ability to investigate, negotiate and litigate a product liability case. From our Columbia office, we serve all of South Carolina. Call today at (803) 525-1645 or contact us online to set up a consultation.
3 Elements of Product Liability in South Carolina
Product liability cases revolve around three elements of proof that the injured plaintiff must prove to the court…
A Defective Product
The Columbia, SC product liability attorney representing the plaintiff must show that the product had an inherent defect. That is, the product was flawed from the moment that customer made the purchase.
Inherent defects can come about in three different ways…
- The design process: Design defects can go all the way back to the product’s origins and presume some level of fault in engineering or architecture. In the event of a lawsuit, our lawyers can subpoena documents from this early stage of product development, which may shed light on where errors occurred.
- The manufacturing process: Maybe the product had a strong foundation, but something went awry on the assembly line. For example, the automobile with inherent brake issues, might have been perfectly designed, but seen an error when the vehicle was put together.
- The marketing presentation: Were proper warning labels placed on a product? A prominent example of marketing defects can come in pharmaceuticals. Were customers warned of side effects, or the quantity of which an over-the-counter drug should be consumed in? In products with electrical components, are there appropriate warnings given, including recommendations on how old a child should be before using the product? All of these are circumstances where a failure to give customers a prudent warning can constitute product liability.
The Product Caused the Injury
The concept of causation is essential to any personal injury case and product liability is no different. Even if a product can be proven as defective, it must also be proven that the product was the cause of the injury.
In some cases, this may be self-evident. The lawn mower that malfunctions and cuts into somebody’s foot was pretty clearly the cause of the injury. But let’s say those car brakes mentioned above fail just a little bit—enough to cause a modest fender-bender, but not a full-scale crash. The fender-bender is serious enough though, for the driver of the car to have suffered some back and neck problems.
What if the driver had pre-existing conditions in the back and neck? The manufacturer’s insurance company will have access to medical records and can make the argument that their defective product, was the cause of the driver’s injury—or at least not the primary cause. It’s the job of the plaintiff’s Columbia, SC product liability lawyer to maintain the connection between their client’s injury and the defective product.
The Product Was Used as Intended
A manufacturer has to be able to reasonably foresee that the customer’s injury might occur. To that end, it’s the customer’s obligation to use the product as intended. The toaster that’s plugged in while sitting in a puddle of water from the sink, and causing an electrical fire, is not being used as intended and the injured plaintiff will have a significant challenge in making a case. But if that same toaster catches fire on a normal, dry countertop? Now, there’s a chance we’ve got product liability.
What a lawyer doesn’t need to do in a court of law can be at least as significant as what we do have to prove. In product liability cases, one thing that doesn’t need to be proven is that the manufacturer’s negligence was deliberate.
This differentiates product liability from many other areas of personal injury law. For example, in a car accident case, it’s not enough to show that the accident happened and caused injuries. It has to be demonstrated that the driver of the other vehicle breached their duty to drive responsibly.
But in product liability cases, intentions and competence of the manufacturer are irrelevant. If an error was made in design, it need not be proven that the engineer was malicious or incompetent. It’s enough to know that the error occurred and caused the injury to a customer who used the product as intended. The legal term for this is strict liability.
Modified Comparative Damages
A manufacturer might concede—or a jury might rule—that the three elements of product liability are all present. Yet it might also be determined that those three elements are not entirely responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries.
Our example involving faulty car brakes causing back and neck injuries are a prime example of this. The court might decide that the pre-existing medical conditions caused some of the problem, but not all. South Carolina law authorizes courts to assign a percentage of blame to the manufacturer. So long as that blame is higher than 50 percent, the plaintiff can still collect a proportionate share of the damages.
In other words, if a manufacturer is found 90 percent responsible on a damage award of $100,000, the plaintiff can collect $90,000 of that award.
Modified comparative damages can protect plaintiffs—it’s not hard to envision situations where pre-existing conditions or some other factor was a small reason for the injuries. This law ensures that the manufacturers don’t get off the hook entirely, simply because other factors were marginally responsible for the injuries.
But modified comparative damages also underscore the importance of good attention to detail and strong advocacy from the plaintiff’s legal counsel. Every percentage point has a dollar value attached to it and even minor shifts of responsibility can add up to a lot of money.
Relentless Lawyers for Serious Cases
Mann Blake & Jackson is no stranger to taking on difficult cases against powerful and wealthy clients. We’re also no stranger to having big success in those cases, including verdicts that run north of $50 million for our clients. Our past success doesn’t guarantee a future outcome, but that track record can certainly give a client confidence that we do our legal homework, we don’t back down in a fight and we know how to advocate before a jury.
We've Fought and Beaten Government Agencies
We've recovered over $100M in verdicts, settlements, and awards for our clients, much of that against government agencies. We know what you're facing, and we're the team to help you win.
These Cases Are Close to Home For Us
Not only are we North and South Carolina attorneys, but our families, friends, and neighbors have fallen victim to the injustices at Camp Lejeune. We'll fight vigorously for you and your family not just because it's the right thing to do, but because we've been hurt by this too.
We Know How to Protect and Service Our ClientsWe've fought for whistleblowers. We've fought for catastrophic injury victims. We know this can feel like a daunting road, but we have the experience and know what it takes to provide you the justice you deserve.
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