Manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, and marketers all have a legal responsibility to ensure that their products are reasonably safe for consumers. When companies fall short of this legal obligation, they can be held legally liable for any resulting damages. Most product liability cases are brought under state law, and as such, injured victims need to be aware of how their state handles product liability case. Here, our top-rated Seattle product liability lawyers highlight the most important aspects of our state’s product liability regulations, the Washington Product Liability Act (WPLA), and how it could affect your legal claim.
WPLA: The History
Before the Washington Product Liability Act was passed into law by the state’s legislature in 1981, these types of personal injury claims were handled under common law. The WPLA was passed to create a uniform system that helped to protect consumers from defective products in the fairest manner possible. WPLA made the state’s legal system far more efficient, as it consolidated all product liability cases into a single, comprehensive set of claims. Now, the WPLA is the exclusive remedy for this type of claim in our state.
The Theories of Product Liability in Washington
Even with the WPLA, product liability claims can still be very confusing. One issue is that there are actually several different theories of liability available under this law. When assessing a potential product liability claim, each of these legal theories must be examined to see which, if any, apply to the case. The product liability theories that are available in Washington include:
- The Risk-Utility Formula: Also known as the ‘risk-utility test’, this theory can be used to prove that a product design is defective. Washington courts can hold a company liable for a defective product if the plaintiff can prove that the chance of an injury multiplied by the seriousness of the potential injuries is more costly than it would be for the company to use an alternative product design.
- Consumer Expectations Standard: Under this theory of liability, a product is not sufficiently safe if the ordinary consumer would not consider it to be sufficiently safe. When using this theory, an injured victim does not necessarily have to prove that an economically viable alternative design was available.
- Inadequate Warnings or Instructions: Products must include proper warning labels and must come with adequate safety instructions. Furthermore, if the manufacturer learns of additional safety information about their product after a sale has already taken place, such as when a motor vehicle is recalled, action must be taken to reach out to consumers to ensure their protection.
- Breach of Warranty: Finally, companies can be held strictly liable in defective product cases under contract law. For example, if a product was sold with a warranty, and a consumer was harmed as a result of that warranty being breached, that company can be held liable for the injured consumer’s damages.
You Have Limited Time to Take Action
The state of Washington has a strict statute of limitations. Under Chapter 4.16 of the Revised Code of Washington, a victim generally only has three years from the date of their injury to bring a product liability lawsuit. There are very limited exceptions to this rule. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to take action as soon as possible after suffering an injury. Beyond the statute of limitations, you will need to build a strong case to win a product liability claim. The sooner you seek professional legal representation, the sooner your attorney will be able to begin investigating your claim, gathering the evidence needed to win your case and maximize your compensation.
Compensation Available for Injured Victims
Under Washington law, victims of defective products are entitled to seek compensation for the full extent of their losses. Unfortunately, obtaining fair compensation from large companies can be challenging. As such, it is imperative that injured victims work with a qualified Washington product liability lawyer. Our team can help you seek the full recovery that you deserve. Depending on the circumstances of your claim, we may be able to help you obtain financial relief for:
- Hospital bills;
- All other medical expenses;
- Long-term disability and required medical treatment;
- Lost current and future wages;
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Severe physical damage; and
- The wrongful death of a family member.
Contact Our Seattle Product Liability Attorneys Today
If you or a loved one was injured by a defective product, please contact the Hornbuckle Firm today to request a free review of your case. We will work aggressively to hold the responsible parties accountable so that you can recover the full financial compensation you deserve. From our offices in Bellevue and Seattle, we represent clients throughout the region.