Los Angeles Defective Product Attorneys
When a product is defective, it often takes a consumer sustaining an injury—and potentially a catastrophic one—to discover that the product is not safe. Any product can be defective, but those products you use daily at home and at work—cars, tires, prescription drugs, heating systems and appliances, electricity, industrial machines, heavy equipment—pose particular risks because of the unexpected nature of their defects.
Vehicles in particular can cause severe catastrophic injuries due to their size and the speeds at which they travel. When vehicles fail, they can cause horrific injuries such as burns, brain and spinal cord injuries, crushed and amputated limbs, and even death.
Defective products can injure users and bystanders. Even those uninjured by the product itself suffer. Victims recovering from serious product-related injuries must manage costly medical treatments, lengthy disabilities, and lost income. Their families must endure the difficulty of caring for their loved ones. Those with the most catastrophic injuries spend their lifetimes enduring costly treatment regimens, surgeries, rehabilitation, permanent disabilities, and reduced earning capacities.
Even if it’s obvious that a product failed and injured someone, the nature of the defect isn’t always clear. When victims of a defective product seek justice and compensation for their injuries, they need to retain an attorney with the resources and experience to pick apart the facts of the product defect, identify the party responsible for the defect, bring that party to the table, and make sure the party pays its fair share.
No Product Defect Case Is Too Complex for Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP
At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we understand that seriously injured people must focus on healing. We represent clients whose lives were permanently altered by an injury caused by defective products. Our team has investigated and analyzed countless accidents that were related to product defects. We have used our resources to investigate products and uncover evidence proving that defects caused our clients’ injuries. And we have held product manufacturers and others involved in the manufacture and sale of defective products to account for our clients’ injuries.
Automobile Manufacturing Liability
In 2010, for example, defects were causing several Toyota vehicle models to suddenly accelerate on their own. Toyota recalled about eight-million vehicles for repairs, but not before at least 89 died in crashes and 57 suffered injuries. Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, participated in litigation that ultimately resulted in a $1.2 billion settlement, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration levied a record $17.35 million fine against the company.
Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, partner Christine Spagnoli also recovered $4.9 billion from General Motors for a defective fuel system that burned four children and two adults—one of the largest product liability verdicts in American judicial history.
An automotive design defect and negligent safety testing caused an Isuzu Rodeo to roll over, amputating the lower left leg and injuring the brain of a seatbelted passenger. Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, recovered $5.3 million for the victim.
When the Bridgestone/Firestone scandal erupted, with faulty and underinflated tires killing at least 271 and injuring more than 800, attorneys for Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, secured a confidential settlement against the company. Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, has also negotiated confidential settlements against Goodyear Tire and Cooper Tire when tire tread separation on those companies’ products resulted in wrongful deaths or injuries.
Millions Recovered in Other Product Defect Injury Cases
At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we believe that manufacturers and others involved in the manufacture and sale of a product should pay for the damages their defective products cause. Product defect cases are complex. Proving a specific defect caused a specific injury can pose extraordinary difficulties.
Our attorneys, however, understand the legal and medical issues and the evidence required to prove a product defect case. We’ve used our extensive resources to achieve successful outcomes for our clients. We have settled cases, resolved cases through aggressive negotiation and alternative dispute resolution, and won jury verdicts.
Our firm has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and judgments in complex product defect cases. While our past results don’t guarantee future outcomes, we are proud to share some of our recent case successes.
- $7.8 million settlement: A defectively designed and manufactured floating rock grinding machine amputated a worker’s leg.
- $5.5 million settlement: A morphine pump malfunctioned, causing brain damage when it pumped its entire contents into the plaintiff.
- $4.9 million binding arbitration: A plaintiff was injured on a Ferris wheel at Kingdom Amusement Park.
- $4.1 million verdict: A defective playground swing caused a 12-year-old child’s head injury. The court awarded damages against a San Diego School.
- $3.4 million settlement: A plaintiff couple sustained serious injuries while jumping onto a moving trolley. The case settled after our firm filed a suit for damages due to a design defect that forced riders to jump through trolley cars.
- $3 million settlement: While performing his job, the plaintiff was injured when the brakes failed on a loader, causing serious orthopedic injuries.
- $1.5 million settlement: Following the defendant’s employee’s instructions, the plaintiff used gasoline to remove tile adhesive. She was severely burned when fumes ignited.
- $1.1 million settlement: Parents sued a mini blind manufacturer when their daughter died of asphyxiation after becoming entangled in a mini blind cord.
Why Other Law Firms Refer Product Defect Cases to Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP
Product defect cases require a keen ability to analyze an injury and prove a causal connection to a defective product. Manufacturers often have prior knowledge of design, manufacturing, and warning defects, and even when they do, there’s often a time delay between this initial awareness and a public notification of the problem. When a manufacturer doesn’t acknowledge a defect, it may prove difficult, at first, to recognize a product’s defect. That’s just one of the challenges of handling a complex product defect case—but one at which Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, has proved adept.
Our firm’s extensive resources have given us a professional edge in researching and proving product defect cases. Our attorneys and investigative staff have researched the specifications and manufacturing histories of products that have injured our clients. We’ve engaged technicians and engineers to perform non-destructive product testing that proves a defect while preserving evidence integrity. Our investigators have searched to uncover manufacturers’ prior notifications of similar events.
In other words, our legal and investigative teams have done what was necessary to prove defects and implement winning strategies for our injured clients:
- We have a track record of multimillion-dollar settlements on product defects and other complex liability cases.
- Our prior successes have generated the funds necessary to expand the resources we’ve needed for comprehensive investigations. We have engaged labs, product testing technicians, and engineering experts to evaluate defective products. We’ve relied on medical and economic experts to evaluate our clients’ current medical conditions and project their future financial losses.
- Our skilled in-house investigators have uncovered evidence, witnesses, and retrieved critical information.
- We have supplemented our legal and factual assessments with the information they provided.
- We work to provide the best outcomes for our clients. Our attorneys have settled difficult cases through one-on-one communication with defense counsel and within the alternative dispute resolution process. Our litigators have resolved cases in the courtroom when negotiation proved ineffective.
- We’ve won complex product defect cases in the courtroom against corporate defendants and their insurance companies, including against large auto manufaturers.
- Our successes with product defects, catastrophic injuries, truck accidents, and other serious cases affirm our standing as a trusted California law firm.
- We represent plaintiffs only. Our focus on severely injured people and their families allows us to direct our time, energy, and resources toward resolving the most catastrophic injury cases.
- Best Lawyers in America recognized Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, as California’s number one personal injury law firm. National Law Journal, Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, Consumer Attorneys of California, American Trial Lawyers Association, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, and many other professional publications and organizations have honored and recognized our firm.
- Our settlement and litigation successes give us the reputation and authority a small-claims litigation firm can’t offer.
What Is a Defective Product?
A product is any item designed, manufactured, distributed, and sold for public or private use. Sales literature, packaging designs, instruction manuals, descriptive brochures, and product labels are considered parts of a product as they promote, illustrate, and describe product use.
Your medications and medical devices are products, as are the cars, trains, and buses (and their tires) that transport you to work or school. The appliances and systems you use in your home and workplace, the industrial machines you operate in a factory, and the elevator you take to your office are all products. You are surrounded by products. When one is defective, injuries often occur.
OSHA’s Construction’s Fatal Four—falls, struck by an object, electrocutions, and caught-in/between—are often related to equipment defects. Inadequate industrial machine safety measures cause crush and amputation injuries. Electrocutions occur when electrical equipment is inappropriately grounded or when underground lines lack visible warnings. Scaffolds and ladders with inadequate safety warnings cause electrocutions and falls.
Defective heaters and appliances are ignition sources for residential and commercial fires. Fabrics and other furnishings spread the flames. Vehicle defects cause catastrophic injury accidents. Auto safety devices designed to protect occupants sometimes fail, causing death or worsening the injuries they were designed to prevent. Poorly designed toys and nursery furnishings contribute to asphyxiations, falls, and other fatal infant and child accidents. Prescription drugs and medical devices cause deaths, disabilities, and life-endangering side-effects.
Who is Responsible?
California law offers a simple answer to the question, Who is responsible? Manufacturers, designers, distributors, and sales outlets are strictly liable for the defective products they market and any injuries those defects cause.
- Design defect: A product that’s produced according to design specifications but doesn’t meet a consumer’s expectations for safety, or the risks of harm are greater than the benefits.
- Manufacturing defect: The manufactured product does not match safe design specifications.
- Inadequate warning/warning defect: The manufacturer failed to provide clear instructions for safe product use and failed to adequately warn about hidden dangers.
Consumers interact with products every day, so safety is a critical issue. California product defect laws recognize this. While in some cases an injured party must prove negligence, any entities in the chain of creation, distribution, and marketing are strictly liable when their defective products cause injuries.
What Types of Injuries do Product Defects Cause?
Defective product injuries vary widely depending on the product involved and its intended use. Except for products with notoriously high fatality rates—tobacco and prescription drugs—it’s difficult to identify all of the defective products in use and the injuries they cause. Here are a few.
- Vehicle injuries: Defective autos, trucks, motorcycles, ATVs, and other vehicles cause brain trauma, spinal cord injuries, severe burns, and other catastrophic injuries. The NHTSA reports that auto and truck defects contribute to accidents, but they don’t track the numbers, except for high-profile defect cases such as those involving Takata airbags. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 337 ATV fatalities during its 2016 statistic year.
- Consumer product injuries: The Consumer Product Safety Commission tracks all reported consumer product defect complaints. The website documents severe burns, electrical injuries, asphyxiations, falls, and other product-related injuries and fatalities. CPSC’s product-related injury lists include toys, appliances, electronic devices, recreation equipment, nursery furnishings, detergent packs, playground fixtures, blinds, curtains, and many others.
- Scaffolding injuries: Scaffolding contributes to thousands of construction fall injuries each year. Metal units are a factor in construction and window washer electrical contact injuries as well. Scaffolding incidents cause falls from significant heights, so they often result in catastrophic injuries, including spinal cord trauma, traumatic brain injuries, and death. Scaffold-related electrical injuries often cause severe burns and fatalities.
- Manufacturing equipment injuries: Despite decades of safety campaigns, annual OSHA statistics regularly document catastrophic manufacturing injuries. Power presses, meat cutters, saws, and other machines common to manufacturing and meat processing operations crush and amputate limbs. Recent Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor Statistics data documented 376 California workplace fatalities in a given year. The statistics cite contact with objects and equipment and transportation incidents as causes.
- Drug and medical device injuries: Drugs and devices produce a wide variety of expected and unexpected side effects and fatalities. Liability is often contingent on whether or not a patient received adequate warnings.
What Damages Can a Person Recover for a Product Defect Injury?
Our attorneys have recovered economic damages, general damages, and in some cases punitive damages for their injured clients.
- Economic damages: An injured person’s economic damages are calculated based on out-of-pocket expenses. They may include lost wages, future lost wages, medical treatment, physical therapy, surgeries, psychological therapy, medication, orthopedic devices, mobility devices, transportation costs, and costs to replace household services.
- General damages: Although general damages are difficult to measure, they are a legitimate element of any damage claim. They’re based on the emotional and personal impact of a person’s injuries on their lives. A general damage settlement assigns a value to pain, suffering, disabilities, changes to spousal and family relationships, and other considerations
- Punitive damages: In appropriate cases, judges and juries may award punitive damages to punish a product manufacturer when evidence shows their actions constituted malice, oppression, or fraud.
Investigating a Product Defect Case
As with all complex cases, product defect investigations require intense focus, diligence, and attention to detail. Our in-house investigators and outside labs and experts have provided the support we needed to uncover evidence and maintain our professional investigative standards.
- Product retrieval: The defective product is the key evidence in a product defect case. Our investigators have proven effective at retrieving products for expert non-destructive testing. We have stored defective products in our evidence warehouse. When appropriate, our facility also accommodates judges, juries, and defense counsel for demonstrations that show how defective products injured our clients.
- Witness statements: Witnesses often provide information to corroborate our clients’ version of events. Witnesses are often aware of details our clients missed because of their injuries. We’ve relied on our investigators to obtain statements promptly, before witnesses relocate or forgot what they saw.
- Site investigation: Our investigators have taken photographs, created diagrams, and documented the details used to create courtroom exhibits. They’ve completed incident site investigations at residential, commercial, and construction sites, public transportation venues, street intersections, and other incident sites.
- Machine/equipment maintenance records: When industrial machines cause employee injuries, our investigators have photographed the equipment and reviewed its maintenance and repair logs.
- Formal reports: Our investigators have obtained fire reports, police accident reports, and other formal records. These documents sometimes pinpoint a defective product as the initiating cause.
- Government data and reports: Government agencies such as OSHA, CDC, NHSTA, and CPSC compile injury and causation statistics. CPSC also documents individual consumer complaints. OSHA investigates serious work-related injuries. Its employer citations and investigative reports document equipment defects and related workplace safety injuries. Our investigators have researched appropriate government data sources for relevant information. Where applicable or necessary, they have obtained OSHA investigative reports under the Freedom of Information Act.
How Much Does Representation Cost?
We meet with you for a free initial consultation and determine if our law firm can help you. Our attorneys have handled our clients’ product defect cases on a contingency basis, in which we have not charged a fee unless we settle a case or win in court. When we represent a client, we agree in advance upon how we will be paid for our services.
Contact Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP
Our law firm has helped seriously injured people recover damages for severe brain trauma, serious burn injuries, amputations, asphyxiations, and other catastrophic injuries caused by defective products. We have represented families in wrongful death actions against responsible manufacturers. We’ve worked hard to produce the best outcomes for our clients.
At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we’ve represented injured product defect victims and consulted with personal injury attorneys in Los Angeles, Southern California, throughout the state, and nationwide. To schedule a free consultation, contact us at (310) 576-1200 or complete our online contact form.