Product Liability Lawsuit: How to File and What to Expect

A product liability lawsuit can help someone injured by a defective product pay expenses. Learn how to file these cases and what to expect when doing so.

Sarah Edwards


Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.


Read in 4 mins
Product Liability Lawsuit: How to File and What to Expect

Product Liability Lawsuits: A Guide

Every day there are news stories about products that do not work as intended. These defective products often cause injuries and may go so far as to cause diseases and death.

Fortunately, the law gives affected victims and their families the right to file a product liability lawsuit against the companies responsible for harming them.

However, product liability cases involve some unusual processes and legal theories that do not apply to many other cases. Nevertheless, it is these processes that give injured consumers many options for pursuing claims against powerful multinational corporations.

With that in mind, below is a detailed breakdown of how these lawsuits are filed and what you can expect to encounter while doing so.

As mentioned, consumers injured by defective or faulty products have many options when filing a product liability claim. These include claims regarding negligence and breaches of warranty, but the most prevalent of these options involves strict liability,

Strict Liability

When filing a case on the grounds of strict liability, your lawyer will only need to prove the product was defective and that such a defect caused your injury. You can meet the first element by establishing any of the following:

  • Design defects that make the product inherently dangerous
  • Manufacturing defects introduced in the factory
  • Warning defects (failures in explaining a product’s proper and safe uses)

An example of a design defect can be seen in a dangerous drug. If a drug has a serious side effect that cannot be avoided when the drug is taken in the intended way, it has a design defect.

Manufacturing defects happen when the factory developing the product in question introduces a problem that makes it dangerous. Thus, a manufacturing defect would be found in a tire with a layer of adhesive that is thinner than designed due to a factory error.

An example of a product with an alleged warning defect is Roundup, a popular pesticide. As detailed in several Roundup lawsuits, the manufacturer failed to warn users about the risks associated with the product. It also failed to inform users to use respirators or other breathing protection while using the product.

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Procedures for Handling Defective Product Lawsuits

Product liability cases usually take one of two forms. In one, a lead plaintiff will file a class action lawsuit, and other similarly situated plaintiffs can then join in. Class action suits can, therefore, benefit multiple plaintiffs at once. Their main drawback, however, is that each plaintiff will often receive compensation for only a fraction of their losses.

The second form of a product liability case is an individual lawsuit. In these, the plaintiff will present their own unique losses. As a result, they can fight for full compensation that covers all of their losses. Plaintiffs have a better chance of recovering full compensation in an individual lawsuit than in a class action. However, the weakness in such cases is that you lose the efficiency of a class action suit with regard to gathering evidence and filing motions.

When multiple individual lawsuits are filed in federal courts, a judicial panel can transfer all the cases to the same judge and consolidate them in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) case. These individual litigations remain separate, but the plaintiffs can share the costs and burdens of gathering evidence and filing motions. Thus, an MDL combines the benefits of a class action and an individual suit.

What to Expect From Product Liability Lawsuit Settlements

Product liability settlements take different forms depending on the type of case. If you are a member of a class action suit, the settlement will cover all the members of the class. Covered members can choose to opt out of the settlement and preserve their right to file an individual lawsuit. If they proceed to not take any action, they will receive their share of the settlement and waive their right to file an individual lawsuit.

Settlements obtained in individual lawsuits are often larger than those of class actions, as the plaintiff will negotiate directly with the at-fault manufacturer. But with that in mind, a plaintiff might not have the leverage to push the manufacturer to the negotiating table in the first place.

An MDL case can be resolved by a global settlement, which will cover all the cases included within. Usually, a predetermined percentage of the plaintiffs must agree to the settlement terms for the MDL judge to approve it. These settlements typically fall between class action settlements and individual settlements in value.

Learn More About Product Liability From ConsumerShield

ConsumerShield is dedicated to educating consumers about their legal rights. When you or a family member suffers an injury or disease due to a dangerously defective product, we can connect you with a dedicated lawyer experienced in these cases. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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Sarah Edwards


Sarah Edwards is a seasoned legal writer with more than a decade of experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • A product liability lawsuit is a case brought forth by an injured consumer for injuries resulting from a defective product. The claim can be brought against anyone in the distribution chain. Retailers and distributors may even bring the manufacturer into product liability cases against them.

  • Regarding how to sue a company for a faulty product, you have two options. First, you can file or join a class action lawsuit. Second, you can file an individual lawsuit against the company. If the company has enough individual lawsuits in federal court, they may be consolidated in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) case.

  • A defective product lawsuit is often based on strict liability, the main benefit of which is that your lawyer does not need to prove intent. Instead, they only need to establish that the product was defective.

  • You win a product liability lawsuit by proving the product was defective in its design, manufacturing, or instructions and that the defect caused the injury.

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