Product Liability Lawyers in PA
Whether at home or in the workplace, we expect that the products that we purchase and use are safe. When products such as automobiles (door latches, seat belts, air bags, braking systems), electrical devices, ladders, clothes dryers, space heaters and yard equipment fail during operation, serious injuries can occur.
The products we use may be defective if the nature of their design or a manufacturing flaw makes them unreasonably dangerous. A product may also be defective if it lacks a warning that explains proper use of the product or the risk of using the product. Establishing product defects can be complex. An attorney experienced with product liability cases will be familiar with the testing and experiments necessary to prove your case, such as:
radiographic testing of tires to identify steel belt defects;
microscopic examination of failed metal components to identify inadequate metallurgical structures and compounds;
metallurgical stress analysis testing;
computer downloads of vehicle crash data from air bag systems, anti-lock braking systems, and dedicated recording devices;
duplicating failure modes with working product models;
electrical conductivity testing; and
destructive testing of exemplar products.
One of the most important things to keep in mind after being injured by a potentially defective product is to save the product. Don’t throw it away or take it apart. Without the product that caused your injury you may be unable to prove your case.
Product Liability Attorneys
If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered a loss as a result of a defective product, contact Villari, Lentz & Lynam, LLC. They stand ready to investigate and pursue all available civil damage remedies. Call (215) 568-1990 or or complete the short form to the right.
The Medical Malpractice Claim
The plaintiff is or was the patient, or a legally designated party acting on behalf of the patient, or – in the case of a wrongful-death suit – the executor or administrator of a deceased patient’s estate.
The defendant is the health care provider. Although a ‘health care provider’ usually refers to a physician, the term includes any medical care provider, including dentists, nurses, and therapists. As illustrated in Columbia Medical Center of Las Colinas v Bush, 122 S.W. 3d 835 (Tex. 2003), “following orders” may not protect nurses and other non-physicians from liability when committing negligent acts. Relying on vicarious liability or direct corporate negligence, claims may also be brought against hospitals, clinics, managed care organizations or medical corporations for the mistakes of their employees.
A plaintiff must establish all four elements of the tort of negligence for a successful medical malpractice claim.
A. A duty was owed: a legal duty exists whenever a hospital or health care provider undertakes care or treatment of a patient.
B. A duty was breached: the provider failed to conform to the relevant standard of care. The standard of care is proved by expert testimony or by obvious errors (the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur or the thing speaks for itself).
C. The breach caused an injury: The breach of duty was a proximate cause of the injury.
D. Damages: Without damages (losses which may be pecuniary or emotional), there is no basis for a claim, regardless of whether the medical provider was negligent. Likewise, damages can occur without negligence, for example, when someone dies from a fatal disease.
Expert witnesses must be qualified by the Court, based on the prospective experts qualifications and the standards set from legal precedent. To be qualified as an expert in a medical malpractice case, a person must have a sufficient knowledge, education, training, or experience regarding the specific issue before the court to qualify the expert to give a reliable opinion on a relevant issue. The qualifications of the expert are not the deciding factors as to whether the individual will be qualified, although they are certainly important considerations. Expert testimony is not qualified “just because somebody with a diploma says it is so” (United States v. Ingham, 42 M.J. 218, 226 [A.C.M.R. 1995]). In addition to appropriate qualifications of the expert, the proposed testimony must meet certain criteria for reliability. In the United States, two models for evaluating the proposed testimony are used:
The more common (and some believe more reliable) approach used by all federal courts and most state courts is the ‘gatekeeper’ model, which is a test formulated from the US Supreme Court cases Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals (509 U.S. 579 ), General Electric Co. v. Joiner (522 U.S. 136 ), and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael (526 U.S. 137 . Before the trial, a Daubert hearing will take place before the judge (without the jury). The trial court judge must consider evidence presented to determine whether an expert’s “testimony rests on a reliable foundation and is relevant to the task at hand.” (Daubert, 509 U.S. at 597). The Daubert hearing considers 4 questions about the testimony the prospective expert proposes:
- Whether a “theory or technique . . . can be (and has been) tested”
- Whether it “has been subjected to peer review and publication”.
- Whether, in respect to a particular technique, there is a high “known or potential rate of error”
- Whether there are “standards controlling the technique’s operation”.
Some state courts still use the Frye test that relies on scientific consensus to assess the admissibility of novel scientific evidence. Daubert expressly rejected the earlier federal rule’s incorporation of the Frye test. (Daubert, 509 U.S. at 593-594) Expert testimony that would have passed the Frye test is now excluded under the more stringent requirements of Federal Rules of Evidence as construed by Daubert.
In view of Daubert and Kuhmo, the pre trial preparation of expert witnesses is critical. A problem with Daubert is that the presiding judge may admit testimony which derives from highly contested data. The judge may expand the limits contained in the “school of thought” precedent. Papers that are self-published may be admitted as the basis for expert testimony. Non-peer reviewed journals may also be admitted in similar fashion. The only criterion is the opinion of a single judge who, in all likelihood, has no relevant scientific or medical training.
Many states also require that a certificate of merit before a malpractice lawsuit is filed which requires a report from a medical doctor that the doctor accused of negligence breached the standard of care and caused injury to the Plaintiff.