In any unanticipated situation, people can be harmed by dangerous or defective products. If you are one of them, then you know the extent of discomfort and expenses such injuries can cause. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may be able to make a personal injury compensation claim. But, you need to file the claim within the strict time limit set for products liability cases in your state.
In the United States, product liability law protects victims injured by dangerous products with legal instruments. All products need to meet certain safety parameters set by the federal and state laws. The laws become applicable if a product has an unexpected defect, or the dangers of using it are not brought to consumers’ attention.
Before filing a compensation claim, you need to evaluate whether or not you really have a valid reason to be compensated. Once you are sure about this, you need to start preparing your case. It will help if you are familiar with the federal and state laws applicable to your case.
Below, you will find the necessary information about injuries caused by dangerous and defective products to help you before you file a claim.
Types of Product Defects You Can Claim Compensation for
- Manufacturing Defects: Using this argument, you can be entitled to compensation for the injuries caused by a defectively manufactured product that is flawed because of errors incurred during the manufacturing process. These flaws may be present because of negligence or technical errors at the factory where it was developed or assembled. You or your legal counsel will have to prove in court that the injury-causing product differs from all the other products manufactured by the company.
- Flaw in Design: Defects in product designing cannot be presented as a manufacturing error, and need to be proven as an error in conceptualization. By taking this path, you will primarily question the design of an entire line of products released by a manufacturer. As the plaintiff, you need to highlight the risks involved in using the product and prove how it is dangerous for potential customers.
- Insufficient Warning Details/Instructions: In this argument, you or your attorney need to prove that the warnings and instructions mentioned by the manufacturer are inadequate and, hence, led to your injuries. Claims using this reasoning typically involve a product that is dangerous in some way, but the dangers and precautionary measures aren’t distinctively informed to the user.
Answers to Three Commonly Asked Questions About Personal Injury Claims Arising from Defective Product
- What Should You Do with the Defective Product?
As soon as you realize that you’ve been physically harmed, your first priority should be to obtain the necessary medical treatment for your injuries, and then hire an experienced product liability attorney to help you fight your case. Your attorney can help you preserve all the evidence from the accident and treatment records.
Once you’ve received the necessary medical aid, you need to conduct an immediate investigation of the faulty/dangerous product. You can make critical observations from the investigation, and develop a strong argument for a successful product liability lawsuit in the initial days following an accident.
As an ironclad rule, the product in question must be secured immediately and you need to ensure that it is available only to you and your attorney. This will guarantee that it is not tampered with, which is extremely crucial for your case.
Remember not to dispose the product even after filing your lawsuit. If it still presents the risk of immediate harm to others in the vicinity, then you should seek help from the legal authority to keep it in inactive mode. Do not try to sell the product or give it to an investigator before consulting an attorney.
- Who’s Legally Responsible for the Injury?
Cases of injury by dangerous products are sometimes among those types of personal injury cases wherein the “burden of proof” generally shifts to the defendant(s). This is inspired by the Latin phrase, “res ipsa loquitur,” which means “the thing speaks for itself.” In the case of defective products, it indicates that the defect at issue would not exist unless someone was negligent. Also, the plaintiff is no longer required to prove the defendant’s negligence. Rather, it is the responsibility of the defendant (manufacturer, proprietor, or owner) to prove that he/she was not negligent.
Additionally, the concept of strict product liability can work in your favor. It states that the seller/distributor or manufacturer of the product in question is liable to the injured person for the harm, regardless of the former’s efforts to make sure the product is error-free. You need to first consult your attorney if strict product liability applies to your case. If yes, you no longer need to prove that the manufacturer or business operations were negligent, but only that the product (you used) was defective.
- Was the Product Being Used as Directed by the Manufacturer?
For you to prove that you were genuinely harmed by the product, you must also prove that you were harmed despite using the product as per the instructions provided by the manufacturer. For instance, if you were using a new electric room heater without violating any of the instructions provided, and the appliance explodes causing you burns or other injuries, then you may have a chance to file a claim for those injuries. This proves that users are at a risk of being injured due to the lack of proper instructions and warnings by the manufacturer.
Even with high quality standards and quality control checks, certain products available in the market may harm you when using them. It is the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure that the consumer is well aware of the plausible risks of using the product, along with establishing proper manufacturing and design processes. Lawyers who specialize in personal injury lawsuits can help you in case you are injured by a defective or dangerous product.
Author Information: Antonio Arthurs is an associate attorney at Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Hasson, P.C. He has experience representing clients in personal injury, workers’ compensation, criminal, and municipal cases.