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Experienced Minnesota Product Liability Lawyers Explain Product Liability

December 15, 2023 – Paul W. Schroepfer & Robert A. Correia

product liability lawyers

In our daily lives, we interact with an array of products, from the smartphones in our pockets to the cars we drive and the toys our children play with. These items, designed to enhance our lives, can sometimes unfortunately lead to personal injuries or even wrongful deaths. Understanding the role of product liability laws in Minnesota is crucial for those moments when a product does not just fail, but causes us harm.

Despite these laws, defective products remain a significant problem, causing millions of injuries each year in the US. Whether it’s a faulty medical device, a malfunctioning piece of farm equipment, or an unreasonably dangerous toy, understanding your rights in such situations is vital.

In this blog, our team of experienced Minneapolis product liability lawyers will guide you through the essentials of product liability in Minnesota. Our goal is to empower you with knowledge about your rights and the options available if you or a loved one has suffered injury due to a faulty product.

Have you been injured? Call us at (612) 333-3343 to schedule a FREE case evaluation with an experienced defective product attorney. We’re committed to delivering individualized attention and vital support when you need it the most.

What Is Product Liability?

Product liability in Minnesota involves holding manufacturers accountable for injuries caused by their products. This encompasses cases where a product is unreasonably dangerous for its intended use, leading to harm. These laws promote public safety and ensure manufacturers maintain high safety standards in the design, testing, assembly, and manufacture of their products.

Who Is Liable for a Defective Product?

When a product defect leads to injury, various entities might be held responsible. The list of potentially liable parties includes:

  • The individual or team responsible for the product’s design
  • Companies involved in manufacturing the product
  • Retail businesses that sell the product
  • Distributors and wholesalers in the supply chain
  • Laboratories and testing facilities involved in product evaluation
  • External contractors and consultants who contributed to the product

Identifying the root cause of the defect and pinpointing liable parties is a complex task, almost always requiring the insights of expert witnesses to clarify these details.

Your Rights as a Consumer

As a consumer, you have certain rights. You are entitled to safe products, accurate information, adequate warnings, a variety of choices, compensation for injuries caused by defective products, and the right to voice your concerns.

Product Liability in Minnesota: Key Legal Theories

Minnesota’s product liability law revolves around three main theories: strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. These frameworks offer various grounds for holding manufacturers and sellers accountable for defective products.

  • Strict Liability: Focuses on the product’s safety rather than the manufacturer’s conduct. If a product is inherently dangerous and causes harm, the manufacturer or seller can be held liable, irrespective of negligence.
  • Negligence: This theory applies when a manufacturer or seller fails to meet safety standards in the product’s design, manufacturing, or marketing. Liability is based on a lack of reasonable care which results in an unsafe product.
  • Breach of Warranty: Relates to the manufacturer’s promise that a product is safe for its intended use. If this promise is broken, leading to harm, the manufacturer can be held liable. This includes both express guarantees and implied safety expectations.

Understanding these legal bases is essential if you are pursuing a product liability claim in Minnesota.

Types of Product Defects in Minnesota

Defects can be in design (flaws inherent in a product’s design), manufacturing (errors during production or assembly), or marketing (inadequate labeling, instructions, or safety warnings).

Identifying Common Product Hazards

Certain products repeatedly emerge as sources of injury, highlighting the need for increased consumer vigilance and manufacturer accountability. Here are some of the most commonly reported product-related injuries:

  • Home and Recreational Products: This category includes items like stairs, ramps, flooring surfaces, furniture (beds, chairs, sofas), and playground equipment. Injuries from these products often result from falls or structural failures.
  • Electronic Devices: Televisions and other electronic devices pose risks such as electrical hazards, overheating, or fires, especially when they are defective or improperly used.
  • Household Products: Cleaning chemicals, cooking appliances (ovens, ranges), and other everyday items can be sources of injury due to chemical exposure, burns, or mechanical failures.
  • Children’s Products: Toys, cribs, strollers, and other products designed for children are particularly concerning due to the vulnerability of their users. Hazards include choking risks, toxic materials, or unsafe construction.

Injuries Caused by Defective Products

Defective products can cause a wide range of injuries, from minor to severe, and in the worst cases, lead to wrongful death. Key injury types include:

  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Brain injuries
  • Bone fractures and breaks
  • Severe burns
  • Amputations
  • Cuts and abrasions
  • Internal organ damage
  • Choking hazards

Steps to Take After a Defective Product Injury

If injured by a defective product, it’s essential to take the following steps to support a potential product liability claim:

  • Seek Medical Attention: Prioritize your health and get medical treatment. Medical records are crucial for documenting your injuries
  • Preserve the Product: Keep the product as is, without attempting repairs or alterations, to maintain it as evidence
  • Collect Evidence: Gather the product, its packaging, manuals, or warnings. Photograph the product, injury, and incident scene
  • Document Everything: Write a detailed account of the incident and take photographs of everything relevant
  • Keep Medical and Expense Records: Save all medical reports, treatment bills, and related expenses to document the injury’s financial impact
  • Witness Information: Collect contact details of any witnesses for their potential testimony
  • Avoid Social Media Discussion: Do not share details or images of your injury on social media platforms

These steps are crucial for building a strong product liability case and ensuring your rights are protected.

Compensation in Minnesota Product Liability Cases

In Minnesota product liability cases, compensation for victims encompasses a broad range of damages. These are divided into two main categories: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to tangible financial losses, such as medical expenses incurred for treatment, lost wages due to inability to work, and other quantifiable financial impacts directly resulting from the injury. 

Non-economic damages, on the other hand, cover the intangible and often more personal aspects of harm suffered, like pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and the impact on one’s overall quality of life. Each case is assessed individually to determine the appropriate compensation for the specific hardships and losses experienced by the victim.

Potential for Punitive Damages

In cases where the manufacturer’s negligence is particularly reckless, punitive damages may be pursued in formal litigation. These are less common and are intended to penalize the negligent party and deter similar future behavior.

Determining the Value of Your Case

The value of your product liability case hinges on several factors, such as the severity of your injuries and their long-term impact. Catastrophic injuries or permanent disabilities generally lead to higher compensation. 

However, under Minnesota’s contributory fault laws, if you bear any responsibility for the injury, your compensation may be proportionally reduced. It’s important to note that if you are found to be more than 50% at fault for the injury causing event, you may be ineligible to recover any damages.

The Role of an Attorney in Your Product Liability Case

Our legal team plays a multifaceted role in your product liability case. We offer comprehensive guidance, ensuring you understand each step of your case. Our approach includes:

  • Thorough Investigation: We conduct in-depth investigations to uncover how the defect led to your injury, leveraging expert witness testimony to strengthen your case.
  • Identifying Liable Parties: We meticulously examine all aspects to identify all parties responsible, from manufacturers to distributors.
  • Evaluating and Asserting Your Claim: We document all damages and assess the total value of your claim, aiming for the maximum compensation based on your specific case.
  • Negotiating and Litigating: Our team handles all negotiations with insurance companies and is prepared to represent you in court if necessary, ensuring a robust defense of your rights.

Choosing our firm means partnering with dedicated advocates who are committed to achieving the best outcome for your product liability case.

Need Help? Contact Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia If You’ve Been Harmed by a Defective Product

If you’ve been harmed by a defective product, do not fight this battle alone. Our experienced legal team at Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia understands the complexities of handling cases involving defective products. We’re here to guide you through the process, ensuring you receive fair compensation for any injuries you sustained. Prioritizing client well-being, we ensure each case is meticulously handled. Our goal is a favorable resolution, whether that means negotiating a settlement or representing you in court.

Let us be your trusted partner. Contact us for a FREE consultation at (612) 333-3343 to speak with a Minneapolis injury attorney. If more convenient, you can complete our online form.

Remember, we’re committed to delivering individualized attention and vital support when you need it the most.

Copyright © 2023. Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia, P.A. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia, P.A.
1601 HENNEPIN AVE, SUITE 200
MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55403
(612) 333-3343
https://www.robichaudlaw.com/ 

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