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Commonly Asked Questions about Product Liability in Chicago

If you or a loved one was injured by a defective product, it is important to understand your rights under Illinois law. You can review the answers to some frequently asked questions below for an introduction to product liability cases.

If you believe you may have a right to compensation, contact one of our product liability lawyers in the Chicago area to schedule a free case evaluation. We can review the specific facts of your case and help you to understand your options.

Product Liability FAQs

What are my rights as a consumer, and what obligations do product manufacturers have to me?

Product manufacturers have an obligation to ensure any product they produce is reasonably safe. Consumers have a right to file a lawsuit if a product turns out to be dangerous.

Manufacturers must design and manufacture their products to be safe and should test their products to identify any risks consumers need to be warned about.

Under Illinois law, manufacturers are held strictly liable for injuries resulting from defective products when the product is used as intended.

When you pursue a product liability claim, you have the right to be fully compensated for all harm the defective product caused. This includes economic and non-economic damages experienced due to injuries caused by the defective product. If the product defects resulted in a death, you have the legal right to wrongful death compensation for the loss of your family member.

To learn more, visit our page on Product Liability.

What if I get hurt because of a dangerous product?

If you get hurt because of a dangerous product, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to obtain compensation for all of your losses. You have a limited period of time in which to file your claim and must prove the elements of a defective product case.

Under Illinois law, you generally have two years to make a claim for compensation based on injuries caused by a defective product. There are some exceptions. For instance, when a dangerous product exposes you to harmful substances but does not cause immediate injury, you are allowed to bring a claim within two years of the time you become aware of the damage. However, in no case can you bring a claim more than eight years from the time the injury occurred.

You have a number of potential legal grounds under which you can make a claim for injuries caused by product defects. You can allege:

  • The manufacturer was negligent
  • There were design defects
  • The manufacturer failed to warn you of side effects.

You can also use strict liability rules to hold the manufacturer accountable even if there was no negligence involved. See our page on Product Liability for more information.

What if a defective drug makes me sick or causes side effects?

If a defective drug makes you sick or causes unexpected side effects, you can file a lawsuit to obtain compensation from the pharmaceutical company that manufactured and sold the drug. You must be able to prove that the drug was the cause of harm.

Because there are multiple causes for many health problems, it can be challenging to prove a link between a medication and specific side effects/ health complications. Medical studies, FDA warnings or recalls and expert testimony can prove invaluable in proving that a defective drug made you sick.

For example, the intrauterine birth control device Mirena was revealed to cause many complications, including perforation of the uterus. FDA-revised product warnings alerted patients to Mirena complications, and the information from the recall can be used by plaintiffs to show Mirena was the cause of problems.

See our page on Mirena for more information.

Does it matter if a manufacturer warned (or didn’t warn) me about the risks of a product?

If a manufacturer alerted you to a product’s side effects or risks, you generally cannot take legal action if you suffered the harm you were warned about. If a manufacturer fails to warn you, however, you may be able to obtain compensation for resulting injuries and losses.

A failure to warn is one potential legal argument you can make in order to bring a product liability lawsuit. You will need to demonstrate that the manufacturer was aware of some danger or risk, had an obligation to alert you to the potential for problems and was negligent in not doing so.

What do I need to prove to hold a manufacturer responsible for a dangerous product?

There are different legal arguments you can make to hold a manufacturer accountable for injuries caused by a dangerous product. In many cases, you may make a claim based on multiple legal theories, including strict liability and negligence.

Strict liability holds a manufacturer accountable for any unexpected harm that results from the use of a product according to manufacturer instructions.

If a drug, medical device or other product is used the way it is marketed and intended, the manufacturer is held responsible under strict liability rules for any resulting injuries regardless of negligence.

You simply must show the injuries sustained were caused by the product. You may also prove that:

  • The manufacturer was negligent (unreasonably careless)
  • There were defects in the design
  • The manufacturer failed to warn you about risks
  • The manufacturer breached an implied warranty on the product.

Because there are many different legal arguments to make in product liability cases, it is advisable to get advice from an attorney with experience in defective product cases in the Chicago area. Our page on Product Liability also provides additional information on cases against manufacturers for dangerous products.

What can I expect if I make a product liability claim?

If you make a product liability claim, the case may be resolved through litigation or through settlement. You may have the opportunity for your case to become a part of a class action or multi-district litigation, which can have a significant impact on how your case progresses.

Because products are used by hundreds or thousands of people, many people experience similar injuries when a product turns out to be defective.  As a result, hundreds or even thousands of cases are typically filed against the manufacturer.  These cases can be consolidated into multi-district litigation, which means all cases remain separate but are assigned to one federal court judge who can then make decisions that impact all the claims.

Cases can also be resolved through a class action. This means all of the plaintiff’s claims are joined together in one big case.  Our page on Metal-on-Metal Hip Implant Legal Options explains many of these options.

If you become part of a class action, you will lose a great deal of control over your case, while a multi-district litigation allows more autonomy for plaintiffs while still ensuring the cases are resolved as expediently as possible.

Both a class action and multi-district litigation can lead to a manufacturer making a settlement offer, which would mean you could obtain compensation without going to court.

If your case does not settle, your claim can proceed to trial. You and the defendant will both present evidence, and a jury will determine if you are entitled to damages.

What kinds of compensation will I receive in a product liability case?

Compensation in a product liability case should cover all financial and non-economic losses. You may be pressured by the manufacturer or insurance company to settle your case for less than you deserve, so it is important to understand the full extent of your losses.

The money you receive in a product liability case should pay for past and future medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional distress or the wrongful death of a family member. If your injuries prevent you from working in the future or reduce your ability to earn a living, you should receive ongoing compensation for these lost earnings.

The amount of compensation provided for the injuries caused by the product defect will be determined either in settlement negotiations or by the jury who hears your case.

You can get more information by visiting our page on How Much Is My Case Worth?

Should my product liability case be settled?

Settling allows you to avoid the stress and the uncertainty of a courtroom trial. However, you should settle a case only if the settlement is believed to provide you with an appropriate amount of compensation for your losses.

If your case went to trial, and the jury ruled in your favor, the jury would provide compensation for past and future medical costs, income loss, pain and suffering and emotional distress. In some cases, punitive damages would also be paid.

You should ensure your settlement covers all of these losses before accepting it. If the manufacturer is unwilling to pay a sufficient sum, you may consider going to court.

An attorney who focuses on product liability cases in Chicago can assist you in negotiating a settlement and can advise you as to whether a settlement offer is reasonable compensation for injuries you sustained.

It is important to have an attorney review any settlement offer. Once you accept a settlement, you may not change your mind. For the same reason, you should also be fully aware of the extent of your injuries before settling a case.

Other factors can affect settlement as well, such as the strength of the evidence available to you and any insurance policy limits that may apply.

Our article What is a Settlement? provides more information on what you can expect during the settlement process.

How can a lawyer help me in a product liability case?

Product liability claims are often very technical. The success of your case can rely on expert witnesses and your ability to obtain information from the defendant. An attorney can provide invaluable advice and assistance in building your case.

Your attorney can file a motion with the court to obtain necessary information from the defendant about the product’s design and manufacture. Your lawyer can also assist in finding expert witnesses who will testify to demonstrate the flaws and problems with the product and who can help you to show how the defects were linked to your injury.

From the start of your case to the end, your attorney will assist in building the strongest case possible to maximize compensation. A product liability lawyer can also negotiate a settlement agreement and ensure that you comply with all Illinois rules for making a defective product claim. To learn more, visit our page on Why Should I Hire a Lawyer?

You can also contact Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., to receive a free review of your case. If we take on your case, we will charge no fees unless you recover compensation.

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