The Role of Expert Witnesses in Product Liability Cases in Greater Seattle
Updated: Oct 16
As consumers, we trust that the products we purchase have undergone sufficient testing for safety, reliability, and durability. Unfortunately, errors during the design, manufacturing, or packaging processes may render a product unsafe or even dangerous. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or illness because of a defective product, you may be entitled to recover compensation from the at-fault party. Product liability cases encompass all types of products, such as toys, tools, clothing, packaged food, and prescription drugs. Although Washington State does not require you to work with an attorney to pursue a product liability claim, doing so is highly recommended. The seasoned and skilled personal injury attorneys at Scott & Scott, PLLC, know how to build a strong and compelling product liability case that will secure you the compensation you need to support the various aspects of your recovery. This post will explore the basics of putting together a product liability claim and how enlisting the testimony of expert witnesses can maximize your chances of obtaining a fair and favorable outcome.
Legal Protections For Consumers in Washington State
First, it’s helpful to understand the existing legal protections available to consumers in Washington State. The Washington Product Liability Act of 1981 established a uniform system to protect consumers from defective products by consolidating all product liability cases into one comprehensive set of claims. According to RCW 7.72.030, “A product manufacturer is subject to liability to a claimant if the claimant’s harm was proximately caused by the negligence of the manufacturer in that the product was not reasonably safe as designed or not reasonably safe because adequate warnings or instructions were not provided.” Additionally, Washington’s Tort Reform Act of 1986 further clarified and codified the governing of product liability cases. Essentially, manufacturers have a legal duty to create and supply products that are reasonably safe. Every product intended for sale must be designed and manufactured according to safety standards, and adequate warnings and instructions must be distributed alongside the products. In some cases, other parties (i.e., distributors, retailers, component suppliers, etc.) may be held liable in a product liability case.
Common Types of Product Liability Claims in King County
Products can be considered defective in multiple ways. However, most product defect claims in Washington state fall under three main categories: Design defects, manufacturing defects, and marking defects.
If the design of the product was flawed or led to unsafe assembly—ultimately causing you to suffer an injury—you may pursue a product liability claim to hold the at-fault party legally and financially responsible for the resulting harm. You will need to demonstrate that the product’s defective design made the product unsafe in some way.
In some cases, an oversight or error occurs during the assembly or manufacturing process. For example, if a part was installed incorrectly or a manufacturer failed to inspect the product once it was assembled, you may seek compensation for the injuries you suffered as a result of the manufacturer’s negligence.
When a company fails to inform the consumer of potential safety risks (such as a potential fire hazard under certain conditions), it can be held liable for any injuries that occur as a result of its failure to warn consumers of potential risks. Some products are inherently hazardous even if they have been designed and assembled as safely as possible, and it’s up to the company to provide clear instructions and adequate warnings to protect consumers from potential safety risks.
Building a Strong Product Liability Claim
If you sustained an injury because of a defective product, it’s essential to reach out to a dedicated and knowledgeable product liability attorney as soon as possible to discuss the details of your situation. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed as you cope with a lengthy physical recovery and worry about the medical bills, lost wages, and other costs that are accumulating. However, you are never alone during this stressful time, as your skilled personal injury lawyer will help you build a solid and compelling case aimed at securing you the compensation you need to get your life back on track. Let’s take a look at some of the strategies you and your attorney can use to maximize your chances of obtaining the best possible outcome.
Compiling Compelling Evidence
As you move forward with your product liability claim, you will need to draw a clear line between the manufacturer’s failure to protect the consumer (you) and the injuries you suffered as a result of this negligence. Your attorney can help you identify clear and convincing evidence that identifies the manufacturer as the at-fault party. For example, you can point out that the company failed to include instructions or safety warnings in the packaging. You can also use your medical records and hospital bills to show the court how the defective product impacted your health. If your injuries prevented you from working, you can include former paystubs to illustrate the financial toll that your injuries had on your ability to earn wages.
Using Expert Witnesses to Identify and Describe the Defects
Testimony from expert witnesses can maximize your chances of obtaining your desired outcome. Most product liability cases involve a specific product, and relying on an expert with vast experience in the industry can prove invaluable. For example, if the case concerns a defective airbag, you can call on an expert in this field to describe the customs and practices for this product and how the manufacturer in question failed to ensure the safety of the defective product. Expert witnesses can point to design flaws or explain how the product in question deviates from similar products in a way that renders the product unsafe or even dangerous. The experienced product liability attorneys at Scott & Scott, PLLC, are leaders in handling these complex cases, so you can trust that they will help you identify the most strategic path forward.
The dedicated legal team at Scott & Scott, PLLC, is ready to help you move forward with your product liability claim and secure the compensation you need to support your recovery. Call our Seattle office today at (206) 622-2200 to schedule an appointment with an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney.