Generally, individuals are liable for personal injury damages if they are negligent. But the law holds product manufacturers to a higher standard, mostly because a dangerous or defective drug or other product can seriously injure millions of people at one time. That higher standard is strict liability. Generally, these victims must only prove causation in order to obtain compensation for their injuries.
This compensation generally includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, as well as noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are normally available in these claims as well. A Kansas City personal injury lawyer can obtain these damages if there is clear and convincing evidence that the company intentionally disregarded a known risk.
The burden of proof is quite low in civil claims for defective products claims. Victim/plaintiffs must only establish facts by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). As a result, a temporal relationship between product use and injury is normally sufficient, at least from a legal perspective.
To bolster these claims, attorneys often look for victim clusters. For example, if an unusually large number of people in a community become ill after drinking the water, there is a good chance that water is poisoned.
Legally, the “why” might be irrelevant but the “why” is often compelling for a jury. For example, if that community is near an airport or Air Force base, there is a good chance that the toxic chemicals used in firefighting foam seeped into the water.
Typically, if a victim/plaintiff makes a prima facie (preliminary) case that survives procedural motions to dismiss, most manufacturers try to settle the claim. They do not want to risk a trial.
Mass Tort Claims
These settlements are a bit different in most defective products claim. Since defective products harm so many victims at once, courts usually consolidate these claims, at least for pretrial purposes. That consolidation conserves judicial resources and usually hastens the settlement process.
Some defective product claims are class action claims. The landmark tobacco settlement is a good example. Tobacco almost exclusively harmed smokers. Many other defective products claim actions are Multi-District Litigation claims. The claims are consolidated for pretrial purposes. If they do not settle, they usually return to their home jurisdictions for trial.
Mass actions create settlement momentum and allow plaintiffs from different regions to pool their resources. Additionally, the judge in charge of these proceedings has specialized knowledge that benefits plaintiffs.
Defective product claims have some special procedural hurdles. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Kansas City, contact the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm. You have a limited amount of time to act.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.