LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney R. Michael Bomberger | Sep 21, 2010

What are Damages in Product Liability Cases?

When a defectively designed or manufactured product causes serious injury or death, injured victims or their families may be entitled to damages from the manufacturer, designer, distributor or any other party responsible for the defect and the resulting harm it caused. Damages may include economic damages, non-economic damages and in certain cases, punitive damages.

Economic Damages and Non-Economic Damages

Economic damages are available to compensate a plaintiff financially for harm suffered. Economic damages include past and future medical care expenses, rehabilitation expenses, past and future loss of earnings, loss of employment or earning capacity, and other monetary losses that can be objectively verified. More subjective in nature, non-economic damages compensate a victim for physical pain, emotional suffering, emotional distress, loss of society, loss of companionship, and loss of enjoyment of life. Non-economic damages may be obtained in both personal injury and wrongful death claims resulting from a defective product. Non-economic damages are not set by law, however, in certain states, they are capped.

Punitive Damages

Although not available in every case, in certain cases, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the defendant. Punitive damages are typically only awarded in cases when the defendant acts grossly negligent, and are designed to punish the negligent party and discourage others from committing the same act. In product liability cases, punitive damages are usually awarded with the intention of discouraging the defendant and others from continuing to design, manufacture, or sell dangerous or defective products.

How Much Compensation Are You Entitled To?

In order to recover compensation for injuries sustained by a defective product, or the death of a family member caused by a defective product, victims and their families must establish that the manufacturer of the product was responsible. Once liability is established, the victim must then establish damages. Whereas economic damages are easy to document and are objectively verifiable, non-economic damages are more difficult to determine. How much is an injury worth? In product liability cases, when injuries are serious, injured victims are well-advised to hire an experienced product liability lawyer. An attorney who has successfully represented people injured by defective products can advise victims and their family of their legal rights and best course of action to protect them and recover maximum compensation for their injuries or loved one’s death.

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