There are really no two ways about it: if a defective product injures you, the manufacturer is liable for the damages. This is because the California product liability law is a law that applies strict liability. With strict liability, the intent and negligence of the defendant is irrelevant in attributing liability. For California product liability, all that matters is that the product was defective and it caused damages when used as intended. That’s it. Many of the questions we field from our product liability clients have to do with product liability settlement amounts. More often than not, our clients are curious about the average product liability settlement. Unfortunately, there is no average product liability settlement. At the end of the day, the value of any product liability settlement depends entirely on the circumstances of the case. Why Is There No Average Product Liability Settlement? There is no average product liability settlement because there is no average product liability claim. Just like with car accidents, crimes, and even divorces, every situation is unique. Even two legal claims that appear analogous on their surface will, in all probability, yield different results. WIth no average case or settlement to compare to, we can’t give our clients “average product liability settlement” in good faith. It is disingenuous to pretend otherwise. What Factors Affect My Settlement’s Value? There are an infinite number of factors that can impact your settlement’s value. The product in question, how you used it, your attorney, and their level of experience can all impact the ultimate value of your settlement. The most important factor, perhaps, is the damages you suffered due to the defective product. How Can I Estimate the Value of My Claim? The best way to make an estimate of your settlement’s value is to add up all the applicable damages. California law splits damages into three main categories: Economic damages; Non economic damages; and Punitive damages. Economic and non economic damages are both forms of compensatory damages. The intent behind them is to compensate an injured party for damages they suffered. Punitive damages are not compensatory. Instead, the intent behind them is to punish the defendant for particularly egregious wrongdoing. To make an estimate of your settlement value, all you have to do is account for all damages in each category. Then, simply add up all three categories of damages for a final sum. Your attorney can help you calculate an estimate that will help you determine what a fair settlement would be. Keep in mind, however, that this is just an estimate. Economic Damages Economic damages are the objectively quantifiable damages you suffer. Economic damages include things like: Medical bills, Property damage, Lost wages, Lost employment benefits, and Loss of future earnings. All the noted economic damages have one thing in common: they are objectively quantifiable. You can look at your medical bills, add them up, and include the sum in your estimate of economic damages. The same applies to the other economic damages. All you have to do to incorporate them into your settlement estimate is write down their value and add up the numbers. Then you have the value of your economic damages. Non Economic Damages Non economic damages are not objectively quantifiable, but just as real. Non economic damages include things like: Pain and suffering, Emotional or psychological distress, Loss of a loved one, Loss of enjoyment of life, and Loss of the use of a limb or other bodily function. As you can see, all these are real damages that you can identify and suffer from. They are, however, inherently subjective. Thus, they are hard to place a value on. Furthermore, sometimes, given their subjective nature, non economic damages are difficult to prove. Still, experienced injury attorneys know how to calculate them and prove their existence in court. It is difficult to assess just how much your non economic damages are worth without the help of a skilled attorney. However, it is possible to make an estimate. Most of the time, courts and attorneys calculate non economic damages by applying a multiplier to the total economic damages. For example, consider a claim with $10,000 worth of economic damages. If your case involved significant non economic damages, you might apply a factor of four, bringing the total value of non economic damages to $40,000. Punitive Damages Punitive damages apply only in specific circumstances. As noted, their function is to deter someone from future wrongdoing instead of compensating an injured party. In a product liability claim, punitive damages will apply only if a plaintiff can show that the defendant acted maliciously, with a conscious disregard for safety, or with a real intention to harm others. It is practically impossible for someone without considerable experience in product liability cases to even estimate the value of punitive damages in a given claim. If you believe that punitive damages apply to your case, however, you should tell your attorney immediately. That way, your attorney has ample time to investigate and collect evidence of the malicious wrongdoing. Ready For Legal Help? If you have a California product liability claim, the Law Office of Chuck Geerhart has you covered. Whether you need help estimating your damages, negotiating with the responsible party, or filing a lawsuit, Chuck Geerhart can help. When you work with our law firm, you work directly with Chuck Geerhart. That means that your case will get personal attention throughout the entire legal process. We’ll never pass your case on to a paralegal, so you know that you are getting the best legal help that our firm has to offer. Chuck has considerable experience with product liability claims, and his results speak for themselves. If our firm feels like a good fit, give us a call for a free consultation today!Keep Reading
San Francisco Personal Injury Attorney
When you choose Chuck Geerhart, you're choosing to be represented by one of the finest trial lawyers in California. You're choosing personal attention from start to finish. And, you're choosing to never be passed off to a paralegal or junior lawyer.
- A friend recommended Chuck Geerhart. It was an excellent recommendation.
As a British journalist, recently based in San Francisco and without medical insurance, things seemed pretty messy after I found myself in an airport shuttle, driven by a lunatic, who struck a parked cab. I had to go to hospital, who diagnosed a head injury – as, later, did a neurologist – but the shuttle company’s insurance company continually balked at paying the bills.
A friend recommended Chuck Geerhart. It was an excellent recommendation. He was a great lawyer to have on my side, persistent in his battles with the insurance company, supportive of his client and a pleasure to work with, resolving the claim with the minimum of fuss.Susan
- Chuck made sure I was fairly compensated for this life altering injury.
I was working as an air traffic controller at SFO when a notoriously faulty elevator slammed to a stop between floors, throwing me against the wall and rupturing discs in my neck. I had to have major surgery on my neck. The City and the elevator maintenance company denied liability, until Chuck Geerhart obtained copies of all prior repair records which showed the elevator was continually resetting due to a power supply issue.
During the discovery phase of the case, to protect my privacy rights, he filed a motion with court to block a subpoena issued by the defense that sought to obtain my complete confidential employment file and complete health history in violation of the law. We ultimately settled the case for $1,000,000 after mediation.
I feel that Chuck did a great job making sure I was fairly compensated for this life-altering injury.Denise
- Chuck Geerhart dealt with my case in the most humane way I could imagine.
I was fortunate to have been referred to Chuck Geerhart when I was dealing with a very painful and tragic case of abuse by religious leadership, which was stretched over five years.Frank
Chuck Geerhart dealt with my case in the most humane way I could imagine. He was intelligent and strategic in his approach, always very communicative; an attentive ear, fearless and confident support for someone who was very confused and seeking answers where there were only walls. He always involved me in the process, sharing crucial information with me and allowing me the time and space to decide and move forward. He treated me like a partner, which helped me recover the power that was taken away from me.
At the same time he provided the professional expertise which I needed in order to win the case. The process of winning this case was as empowering as the actual outcome. It was a healing experience in itself. I am very happy with the support and guidance I got from Chuck as well as with the monetary result from such a serious injury. It has truly helped me move on in a good way.
Meet Chuck Geerhart
Chuck Geerhart was admitted to the California bar in 1989, and is a graduate of Cornell University and the UCLA Law School. He has tried 16 cases to jury verdict. He has also sat as a juror in three cases in San Francisco County. Chuck is a longtime member of the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association (SFTLA), and will be SFTLA President in 2022. Chuck is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), an invitation-only organization of premier trial lawyers who have tried at least 10 jury cases to verdict.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What should I do if I am injured because of someone else's fault?
Q. Should I give a statement to the other party's insurance carrier?
Q. What is a contingent fee agreement?
Q. Is it important that I seek prompt medical treatment?
Q. Is there a fee to speak with you about a case?
Q. Should I authorize the release of my medical records to an insurance company?
From the Blog
If you were seriously injured in an accident that you didn’t cause, you need an experienced personal injury attorney on your side. You deserve to have a knowledgeable advocate fighting to get you the justice you deserve. In California, Attorney Chuck Geerhart understands the importance of getting the maximum possible compensation for the wrongfully injured. For more than 30 years, the Law Office of Chuck Geerhart has fought passionately to help clients who have been harmed by the negligence or wrongful actions of another party. No matter whom you choose to represent you in your personal injury case, what’s important is that you have someone on your side to help protect your legal rights and recover compensation for your economic and non-economic damages. What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer? When you hire a personal injury attorney, you do so with the knowledge that upon recovering compensation for your injuries and other damages, you will have to pay legal fees. For most injury accident victims, however, the benefits of having an attorney far outweigh the potential cost of representation. These are just a few of the benefits that an experienced injury accident lawyer brings to the table. Protecting Your Legal Rights Having an attorney on your side is the best way to help protect your legal rights. The California statute of limitations for personal injury provides only two years within which to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. If you don’t act within that prescribed period, you could lose your right to recover compensation. Insurance companies can also look for ways to undervalue or deny your claim. Insurers might even refuse to negotiate your claim in good faith. With an experienced attorney on your side, you can rest assured that they will be looking out for your best interest at all times. Putting Their Resources to Work for You The best personal injury lawyers—in California or anywhere else—have a substantial network of resources that they put to work for their clients. Typically, this might include investigators, accident reconstruction specialists, subject matter experts, etc. Your attorney will put all these resources on your case, enabling them to build the most persuasive case possible on your behalf. Accepting Your Case on a Contingency Basis Most personal injury attorneys do not require any upfront legal fees. After reviewing the details of your case, your attorney will provide you with their opinion of your chances for success. If the attorney believes you have a valid cause of action, they will accept your case on a contingency fee basis. This means that you owe no legal fees whatsoever until the attorney recovers compensation for you. At that time, the agreed-upon fee percentage and expenses are deducted from your settlement or award and you get the rest. Maximizing Your Claim Value Experienced attorneys know how to identify and value all your physical, emotional, and financial damages—and how to document them effectively. This means your claim will carry the highest possible value. You need money to get you through this nightmare. You deserve to have an aggressive attorney fighting to get you every dollar. Tips for Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer You will find countless injury accident lawyers in San Francisco and throughout northern California. So many, in fact, that you might have trouble choosing the right one for you. Start by looking for an attorney who has direct experience in the type of injury accident you were involved in. Some of the most common types of personal injury accidents include the following. Car accidents, Truck accidents, Bicycle accidents, Motorcycle accidents, Pedestrian accidents, and Workplace accidents. Ask any potential attorney about their past results, specifically the settlements and awards they have obtained for their clients. Because your situation is unique, past case results won’t necessarily reflect on your outcome. However, any experienced attorney’s track record and client testimonials will demonstrate how committed they are to getting the best possible outcome for their clients. Talk to a California Personal Injury Lawyer Now at No Cost Are you still wondering, Is it worth hiring a personal injury attorney? If so, take advantage of the free consultation and case review offered by the Law Office of Chuck Geerhart. You can visit us at our San Francisco office and meet our team of compassionate legal professionals. We can schedule your consultation by phone or video conference, or we can come to your location. No matter what the circumstances of your injury accident might be, you do not have to fight this battle alone. We put all our resources to work for you. Our California personal injury lawyers fight to get you the justice and compensation you deserve, just as we have done for our past clients over the last three decades. Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of having a personal injury lawyer on your side. You will find countless injury accident lawyers in San Francisco and throughout northern California. So many, in fact, that you might have trouble choosing the right one for you. Start by looking for an attorney who has direct experience in the type of injury accident you were involved in. Some of the most common types of personal injury accidents include the following. Car accidents, Truck accidents, Bicycle accidents, Motorcycle accidents, Pedestrian accidents, and Workplace accidents. Ask any potential attorney about their past results, specifically the settlements and awards they have obtained for their clients. Because your situation is unique, past case results won’t necessarily reflect on your outcome. However, any experienced attorney’s track record and client testimonials will demonstrate how committed they are to getting the best possible outcome for their clients.Keep Reading