Being on the consumer side of the marketing world can be stressful if you end up with a defective or damaged product, as it may result in a personal injury or other issues. Manufacturers and sellers are held liable for any defective product placed into the hands of a consumer. All individuals involved in the distribution chain (product manufacturer, manufacturer of component parts, the party that assembles or installs, wholesaler, and retail store) of the defective product may be found potentially liable.
Where to Start
Where to begin with establishing your claim can be intimidating and confusing if you are not already aware of the process. It is important to compile all information you feel will be beneficial or make an impact on the case. These items can include anything from proof of medical care to lost wages as they directly or indirectly reflect the impact that the defective or damaged product had on you. It is very important that you do your best to preserve the product in question as it will likely be examined by an expert witness later in your case and is a vital part of the required evidence.
- Gather Evidence
- Preserve the Product
Conduct research and find out all the information you can on the manufacturer(s) and the seller(s) of the product in question. As previously mentioned, all individuals involved in the distribution chain may be liable, so compiling a list of these resources will help the process move along smoothly. Upon completing these three steps, you are prepared to consult and perhaps hire a personal injury lawyer that will represent you for the duration of your case.
- Identify Defendants
- Hire a Lawyer
Terminology You Should Know
Strict Product Liability is the argument that a manufacturer or seller is liable for a defective product regardless of your potential fault. It does not matter whether the manufacturer or seller of the product took reasonable steps to ensure the product was not defective. Negligence occurs when a supplier places a product in the stream of commerce with inaccurate or inadequate labeling, manufacturing, defects, or flaws. Breach of Warranty is the legal liability that applies to a product manufacturer when the product that they make does not work as it should.
- Liable Parties
- Standard of Proof
There is a large amount of jargon the ordinary individual does not understand in any legal situation, but familiarizing yourself with frequented terms will help you stay on track and up to date throughout the claims process. The terminology can get confusing as there are different types of claims and various kinds of charges specific to your case. If you choose to hire a lawyer, your lawyer will be by your side to answer any questions and walk you through the process every step of the way.
Types of Product Liability Claims
While a defect can appear in many different aspects of a product or service, becoming familiar with the different types of claims is not only beneficial to you but your case as well. Having an idea of what claims you may be pursuing is an excellent way to prepare for the claims process and alleviate any gray areas.
- Design – issues with the design of the product; intended defect
- Marketing – problems with how the product is sold; inadequate warnings or instructions
- Manufacturing – issues with the design of the product; an unplanned defect
If you have trouble identifying in which area your case falls, go back to review your evidence and walk yourself through the product’s use up until the defect or damage occurred. Reviewing your evidence for a second time will likely help you identify whether the product issue in question falls under design, marketing, or manufacturing.
Bringing in an Expert Witness
During a product liability case, you have the burden to establish that a violation of the applicable design and/or manufacturing safety standards has occurred. The collected evidence items and preserved product(s) will be extremely beneficial in this situation. Depending on the type of product, an expert witness who is often an engineer may be required.
An expert witness is typically brought in to determine and explain safety standards, conduct testing, and analyze how the product violated standards. Evidence is then compiled to prove that the product is, in fact, defective and unreasonably dangerous. This designated expert generally prepares a detailed analysis of the defective product and is prepared to testify at trial in front of the jury and judge to explain their findings along with how the manufacturer should or could have prevented the situation from occurring. The testimony depends on several crucial factors regarding the expert witness’s experience.
- Communication Skills
When making a purchase, there is always a chance that you may end up with a defective or damaged item, which can be stressful and potentially life-altering. With the high volume of products being released on a daily basis, it is essential to know that manufacturers and sellers are may be liable for any defective product that is placed in your possession. This practice allows for consistency and responsibility throughout the marketing and production world.
Entering the legal world is intimidating and frequently confusing as the processes can seem daunting, and terminology is unfamiliar. It is essential to evaluate the situation and take the necessary steps to make the process comfortable and easy for you. You can achieve this by preparing your evidence and information prior to getting a consultation or hiring a personal injury lawyer.
While each case is unique, the typical time frame for the claims and trial process may range from several months to several years, depending on the complexity of the case and the length of time it takes for all information and findings to be reviewed. All parties involved must understand the case in its entirety as well as the addressed legal issues for the case to move forward towards settlement or trial. Your lawyer will guide you and ensure the process moves along in an efficient and practical manner.