A product liability lawyer is an attorney who specializes in products liability, which is the area of the law concerned with determining who is responsible when products fail to perform as expected. These attorneys can represent consumers who are attempting to sue liable parties, or they can represent people who may incur liability in such cases. This area of the law is primarily civil in nature although sometimes a products liability cases reveals criminal elements.
Products liability is a complicated and broad area of the law. People at many different stages of a supply chain, including manufacturers, retailers, and transporters can be involved in liability cases. There are also a number of different forms of liability, ranging from breach of warranty to strict liability, that can be involved in such cases. The goal of a product liability lawyer is to assist people involved in cases that revolve around products liability.
A product liability lawyer who works with consumers helps consumers identify the parties most likely to be liable and develops a suit that can be filed against them. The lawyer collects supporting information including physical evidence and witnesses to take to court in a trial. If the case is strong enough that the party being sued is concerned about losing in court, the product liability lawyer can negotiate a settlement to compensate the consumer for damages incurred by the product.
On the other side of the equation, a product liability lawyer defends a company from liability suits. The attorney must be familiar with the details of liability law, including numerous defenses. These attorneys can work to settle cases out of court in addition to going to court to defend their employers against suits.
Compensation for a product liability lawyer varies depending on the type of work the lawyer does. People who work for consumers may receive compensation in the form of a share of the settlement, in which case a big payout can result in a high payment. Employers who are retained by companies to provide advice and assistance with product liability cases may be paid a flat retainer fee in addition to bonuses when they win cases or successfully bargain awards down.
To become a product liability lawyer, it is necessary to attend college or university and follow with law school. Pre-law students receiving undergraduate degrees can study in a number of different areas, but may find fields such as communications especially useful. Future attorneys can also take pre-law degrees that provide them with a grounding in the law. Once in law school, students can choose from elective courses that provide instruction in specific areas of the law in order to receive a legal education that will prepare them for professional practice.