Injured by a Defective or Dangerous Product in Nevada?
If you have been injured because a product was defective or malfunctioned, or because there was an inadequate warning on the product, you may be able to receive compensation for:
- Medical bills,
- Occupational and/or physical therapy,
- Lost wages,
- Loss of future earnings capacity,
- Pain and suffering,
- Punitive damages, and/or
- Wrongful death.
To help you learn more about Nevada products liability law, our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys discuss the following, below:
- 1. Proving products liability in Nevada
- 2. Breach of warranty
- 3. Strict Liability
- 4. Negligence
- 5. Intentional misrepresentation or fraud
- 6. Can I get punitive damages in a Nevada products liability case?
Nevada law recognizes four common theories of product liability. In many cases, a plaintiff can look to more than just one theory when making a claim for being injured by a dangerous product. The four legal theories are:
- Breach of warranty,
- Strict liability,
- Negligence, and
- Intentional misrepresentation or fraud.
These bases for products liability claims can often be brought against more than one party -- for instance, the manufacturer, a regional distributor, and a seller.
Often a product will come with some type of warranty or guarantee. Normally, if the product does not live up to the guarantee, you simply return the item and have it replaced.
But if you were injured due to a defect that violated the warranty, you may have a legal claim for damages.
Let's take a closer look at the two types of warranties a product might have:
An express warranty is what we normally think of when we think of a guarantee. It is a guarantee explicitly stated either in writing or orally (for instance, in commercials).
Common types of express warranties include:
- Guarantees on the label,
- Guarantees found in the instructions for the product,
- Warranties made on signs or marketing within the store where the item was purchased, or
- Other types of advertising that make guarantees about the product.
Implied warranties are a little bit more complicated. They are warranties that go without saying. In other words, they are inherent in the product or the customer's stated need itself.
There are two types of implied warranties: warranty for a particular purpose and warranty of merchantability.
An implied warranty for a particular purpose is created when a seller of goods has reason to know:
- The particular purpose for which the goods are required, and
- That the buyer is relying on the seller's skill or judgment to select or furnish suitable goods.1
For example, if a customer tells an appliance salesman that he needs a freezer that will maintain a temperature of below zero and the seller recommends a model, there is an implied warranty that the recommended model will freeze at that temperature. If the freezer then fails to go below zero, the seller has breached the warranty for a particular purpose.
An implied warranty of merchantability is less specific. It is a product by its nature sold for a particular purpose.
For instance, if you buy a battery that has not reached its expiration date, there is an implied warranty that it will produce electricity for a reasonable time. It's what a battery does. Another example is an alarm clock. If an alarm clock doesn't alert you to the time for which you set it, it has failed to achieve the general purpose for which people buy alarm clocks.
Nevada recognizes the doctrine of strict tort liability for defective products.2 Under this doctrine, manufacturers are liable for damages caused by a defective product, even if they were not negligent.
In Nevada, the elements for a claim of strict product liability are:
- That the product was defective;
- That the defect existed when the product left the defendant's possession;
- That the product was used in a manner which was reasonably foreseeable by the defendant; and
- That the defect was a cause of the damage or injury to the plaintiff.3
You do not need to show that the manufacturer or seller was negligent in making or distributing the product. You simply need to prove that the product was somehow defective and that the defect caused an injury.
A recent example is the defective batteries that caused Samsung Galaxy 7 Note phones to catch on fire. In most cases, the damage was limited to the phone itself, which Samsung replaced. But because a phone is not supposed to catch fire, someone who was burned or whose property was damaged by such a fire may have a cause of action against Samsung and/or the battery manufacturer.
An experienced Nevada personal injury lawyer can help you determine who was the responsible party and whether strict liability applies in your case.
While strict liability is limited to manufacturers of defective products, negligence can occur anywhere in the chain of sale. To prove a case of negligence, you must show four things:
- That the manufacturer and/or seller had a duty of care to you,
- That the manufacturer and/or seller breached that duty,
- That the breach of that duty caused your injury, and
- That as a result, you suffered actual damages.
This theory can often be used to hold sellers and distributors of defective products liable if they know or should have known a product they sold was likely to cause injury.
In some cases, a plaintiff may be able to show:
- That the defendant actually knew about a dangerous defect that was present at the time it was distributed to the general public, and
- That they concealed or ignored the defect or used misleading advertising in order to hide it.
While intentional fraud can be difficult to prove, it is not impossible, especially in the case of design or manufacturing defects that affect multiple customers. Such circumstances often form the basis of Nevada class action lawsuits.
Nevada law permits a jury to award "exemplary" or "punitive" damages in cases of egregious wrongdoing. Punitive damages are meant to punish wrongdoers and serve as an example to others. When awarded, punitive damages are in addition to the amount you receive for your actual harm.4
Normally there is a cap on the amount of exemplary / punitive damages a plaintiff can recover. However, in a case based on a defective product, there is no cap.5 The only limitation is that the amount be reasonable in light of your actual damages.
Injured by a dangerous product in Nevada? Call us for help...
If you or someone you know has been injured by a dangerous product, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.
Our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers understand the nuances of Nevada products liability laws. We work with top investigators and experts so that you can get the compensation and peace of mind you deserve.
Best of all, if we take your case, you pay us nothing until you settle or win your case.
- See, e.g., Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) 2-315.
- Valentine v. Pioneer Chlor Alkali, 109 Nev. 1107, 864 P.2d 295, 297 (1993).
- Fyssakis v. Knight Equip. Corp., 108 Nev. 212, 826 P.2d 570, 571 (1992).
- NRS 42.005.
- NRS 42.005 (2)(a).