PARKER WAICHMAN LLP – PRODUCT LIABILITY LAWYERS
Numerous consumer and pharmaceutical products cause tens of thousands of injuries each year. While many products are subject to recalls, some are still on the market. Defective products often cause preventable injuries that result in life-altering consequences such as permanent harm or even death. Whether a person has sustained injuries because of a defective Takata airbag, a faulty GM ignition switch, or a dangerous medical device (such as an IVC filter), among other products, this person deserves to hold the manufacturer/producer of the defective products accountable.
While injured victims and loved ones of deceased victims can pursue product liability claims against the product manufacturers/producers, in some cases, the defendant companies have filed or plan to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy. When a company pursues chapter 11 bankruptcy, product liability claims involving personal injuries are treated a little differently. A company’s bankruptcy proceeding does not necessarily preclude an injured individual (or representative of a deceased individual) from seeking and obtaining compensation. Rather, compensation may be available through a settlement fund that is established by a bankruptcy court for the express purpose of setting aside money to pay out claims. Not all bankruptcy proceedings are created equal. As such, the amount of compensation a person receives through a settlement fund will be dependent on the type and severity of the injury as well as the company’s ability to pay out claims.
You May Be Entitled to Compensation – Pursuing a Product Liability Claim
If you have sustained injuries because of a defective product, have a loved one who has sustained injuries, or have lost a loved one because of injuries resulting from a defective product, you and/or your loved one may be entitled to compensation. Personal injuries caused by defective products can be catastrophic. Not only are personal injuries painful, but many are permanent and financially costly. Medical treatment is only getting more expensive, and insurance companies only cover a portion of the cost of much-need medical care to treat severe personal injuries. No lawyer can guarantee that a person’s lawsuit or claim filed through a bankruptcy-established settlement fund will be successful and result in compensation. However, the only way to find out if you may be entitled to compensation is to speak with a qualified Product Liability Lawyer with a track record of successfully obtaining compensation for injured clients.
The Product Liability Lawyers of Parker Waichman LLP – Contact Us Today
Parker Waichman LLP is a law firm dedicated to helping clients who have sustained injuries in a variety of ways. Our lawyers are nationally recognized for their superior skills in the courtroom, as well as their success in obtaining more than $1 billion in compensation for clients. At Parker Waichman LLP, we not only handle product liability claims, but also handle claims involving medical malpractice, workplace accidents (both personal injury lawsuits and workers’ compensation), construction accidents, nursing home abuse and neglect claims, COVID-19 claims involving personal injuries or death, slip and fall accidents, injuries from dog bites or attacks, and other catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death cases. Our lawyers have the resources and dedication to fight for all clients tirelessly. To learn how Parker Waichman LLP may be able to help you, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation by calling 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
Understanding Product Liability Lawsuits – Strict Liability and Negligence
Product liability claims are governed by state law, and while most product liability lawsuits assert the same types of claims, the statute of limitations in each state will have a substantial impact on an injured person’s ability to seek compensation. While injured victims certainly do not need to become experts in product liability law, it helps to have a general understanding of what product liability claims are. The most commonly asserted legal claims in product liability lawsuits include the following:
- Design Defect – A design defect claim alleges that a defectively designed product caused a person’s injuries or death. To successfully seek and obtain compensation based on a design defect claim, the plaintiff must prove that (1) the product at issue was defective in design at the time of use (or implant if the product is an implantable medical device), and (2) that the plaintiff was injured or killed because of the defective product. A link between the defective product and the plaintiff’s injuries is essential.
- Manufacturing Defect – A manufacturing defect claim alleges that a defectively manufactured product caused a person’s injuries or death. To successfully seek and obtain compensation based on a manufacturing defect claim, the plaintiff must prove that (1) the product at issue had a manufacturing defect at the time of use, and (2) that the plaintiff was injured or killed because of the defective product. As with design defect, a link between the defectively manufactured product and the plaintiff’s injuries or death is critical to establishing a viable product liability claim.
- Failure to Warn – A common product liability claim injured plaintiffs assert is a failure to warn claim. Such a claim alleges that a company’s failure to warn consumers of known dangers, defects, or risks leads to injuries and perhaps even death. When a company fails to warn consumers of known dangers, defects, or risks, consumers (or patients in the context of pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices) rely on inadequate information when choosing to use a product. If consumers or patients had been informed of risks, they might have chosen not to use a product. Failure to warn claims are especially common in the context of defective pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices.
Product liability claims are considered “strict liability” claims. What this means is that an injured plaintiff does not need to prove that a company was negligent, as is the standard in most personal injury cases. The injured plaintiff need only establish that a product was defective at the time it caused a person’s injuries. Some failure to warn claims may be based on negligence, but in most cases, a plaintiff will not need to prove a company was negligent in failing to warn of known dangers or defects.
Understanding Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Federal bankruptcy law allows individuals and businesses to seek the protection of the federal courts when they can no longer meet their financial obligations. While chapter 7 (liquidation) and chapter 13 (payment plan) bankruptcy are intended to help individual consumers pay off debt, chapter 11 bankruptcy helps companies that wish to become profitable again reorganize the companies’ finances to pay off debt in the most feasible way. Such reorganization may include the termination of employees, pay cuts in salary, as well as specific funds set aside to handle certain matters, such as routine bills, loans, and in some cases, personal injury claims.
How Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Affects Product Liability Claims
When solvent companies face product liability lawsuits, such lawsuits often lead to mass settlements given that tens of thousands of individuals have filed lawsuits. When companies become insolvent and seek the protection of the bankruptcy courts by filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy, personal injury claims involving product liability become uncertain. If a company becomes insolvent, insufficient funds may exist to pay out personal injury claims. However, some companies who have filed for bankruptcy, such as Takata, will have a fund set aside to compensate individuals who have suffered injuries because of the company’s defective airbags. The amount of the compensation fund will be dependent on the company’s financial ability to pay out claims after reorganization as well as the severity of a person’s injuries.
An unfortunate reality of chapter 11 bankruptcy is that a company may not have sufficient money to compensate an injured victim as much as it could if the company was solvent. A jury verdict or settlement resulting in the award of compensation may be much higher than the amount available through a settlement fund established through the bankruptcy process. However, because all product liability claims are different and the financial situation of each company that manufactured the defective products is different, specific amounts cannot estimated. On the one hand, an injured victim may be awarded less compensation than is deserved, but on the other hand, without chapter 11 bankruptcy and a settlement fund to compensate injured victims, the injured individual may not have a chance to seek and obtain compensation at all.
Current Product Liability Litigations and Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Takata’s defective airbags have affected millions of drivers across the United States and the world. The endless lawsuits and severity of the defective airbags forced Takata to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy following numerous recalls. In so doing, Takata will have to compensate victims who suffered injuries or death because of the defective airbags through a settlement fund.
Perdue OxyContin – Deadline of June 30, 2020, to File Claims
The opioid epidemic in the United States has led to thousands of lawsuits filed by individuals who fell victim to opioids, such as Perdue’s OxyContin, as well as cities, counties, states, hospitals, and other institutions that have suffered economically because of the opioid epidemic. The onslaught of lawsuits Perdue is facing led the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Many individuals who became addicted to OxyContin subsequently suffered damages, including, among others, loss of employment, physical injuries associated with dependence, exposure to criminal activity and potential criminal charges, as well emotional harm.
Moreover, the physical dependence on opioids often leads to the need for medical treatment that is typically offered by expensive private rehabilitation facilities that are not affordable for everyone. As a part of Perdue’s reorganization under chapter 11 bankruptcy, a fund has been established to compensate individuals who suffered harm from addiction associated with the drug OxyContin. The deadline to file claims is June 30, 2020.
Roundup Weed Killer Litigation
Bayer, the company that purchased Monsanto, the maker of Roundup weed killer, has faced tens of thousands of lawsuits. The popular weed killer has been linked to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL), which includes various subtypes of cancer. While many claims are being negotiated for settlement, many people fear that the financial strain associated with the thousands of claims may lead Bayer to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Doing so could further delay legal proceedings and minimize the amount of money available to compensate victims.
Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Litigation
Johnson & Johnson, a well-known company that produces numerous consumer and pharmaceutical products, recently issued a recall of its talcum-based baby powder, which the company had been selling for more than 100 years. The numerous lawsuits linking the baby powder to ovarian cancer as well as mesothelioma linked to baby powder contaminated with asbestos have caused the company to suffer financially even though the baby powder is just one of many products. Johnson & Johnson is also facing other lawsuits regarding allegedly defective drugs and medical devices, which are sold by the company’s subsidiaries. Like the fear associated with Bayer, many people fear that Johnson & Johnson may turn to bankruptcy to deal with the countless lawsuits they are facing.
Allergan Textured Breast Implants
Allergan is the maker of various versions of textured breast implants that have been linked to Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), a potentially deadly cancer. Because of the number of lawsuits and evidence of the defective nature of the textured breast implants, Allergan issued a worldwide recall of the implants. Although Allergan has not filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, additional lawsuits may cause the company to sustain financial harm that leaves the door open to the possibility of bankruptcy.
Frequently Asked Questions About Product Liability Claims and Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Will a bankruptcy limit the amount of compensation I receive?
In some cases, the compensation available via a settlement fund established through chapter 11 bankruptcy may be less than it otherwise would if the company was solvent. However, the compensation available will vary based on a company’s prior profitability and chances of becoming profitable again after reorganization.
What happens if I file my lawsuit before a company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy?
The outcome of a product liability lawsuit alleging personal injuries may become unpredictable if the defendant company at issue files for chapter 11 bankruptcy during the pendency of the product liability lawsuit. Whether an injured plaintiff must seek compensation by filing a claim through a bankruptcy-established settlement fund will vary from case to case. In one case, a plaintiff’s claim may settle outside of the bankruptcy claims process, while other plaintiffs may need to seek compensation through the bankruptcy-established settlement fund.
How can I increase my chances of receiving compensation through a settlement fund?
The best way to find out how to obtain compensation by filing a claim through a settlement fund under a chapter 11 bankruptcy is to speak with a Product Liability Lawyer who routinely handles claims involving companies that are in bankruptcy. Although injured plaintiffs can file claims without the assistance of an attorney, a qualified Product Liability Lawyer will know what steps to take to help maximize the amount of compensation an injured plaintiff may be entitled to. Not all injured individuals will necessarily receive the same amount of compensation. Such an amount will be based on the severity of a person’s injuries and the additional damages the person has suffered.
Time Limitations on Product Liability Lawsuits – Why You Should Act Quickly
Many settlement funds established through a company’s chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding will overlook the statute of limitations that may bar certain product liability claims. However, it is best not to assume that the statute of limitations in a given product liability case will be paused or “tolled.” Rather, the best course of action is to move quickly to speak with a Product Liability Lawyer who can evaluate the facts of a client’s case to (1) determine whether a viable claim exists, and (2) determine whether the statute of limitations for the claim has expired. All states have different statutes of limitation, which means that one state may allow only one year to file a product liability lawsuit (such as Tennessee or Kentucky) while another state may allow four or five years to file a product liability lawsuit (such as Florida and Missouri).
Additionally, even if the statute of limitations has technically expired on a person’s potential product liability lawsuit, some states have a “discovery rule,” which provides an injured person additional time to file a lawsuit. The discovery rule is similar in most states, but each state may apply the rule differently. Generally, the discovery rule allows a person to file a lawsuit within three years of becoming aware of an injury linked to a defective product. For example, a person may learn he or she has sustained an injury because of a defective product when seeing an advertisement about lawsuits or settlements on television.
While the discovery rule extends the amount of time a person has to file a lawsuit, it may not apply in every case, and an outcome cannot be predicted with certainty. Because the statute of limitations is a common reason why so many lawsuits are dismissed, anyone who has sustained injuries because of an allegedly defective product – whether the company at issue has filed for bankruptcy or not – needs to seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Contact the National Product Liability Lawyers of Parker Waichman LLP Today
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries because of a defective product, it is crucial to act quickly to speak with a Product Liability Lawyer. At Parker Waichman LLP, our lawyers are skilled litigators who represent clients nationwide. Our legal team thoroughly evaluates all potential claims to determine whether a client may be entitled to compensation. Whether the company at fault for the defective product is involved in a bankruptcy proceeding or not, injured individuals have options to seek compensation. To find out how the National Product Liability Lawyers of Parker Waichman LLP can help you, contact our office today by calling 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) to schedule a free consultation.
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