Consumers have the right to expect that the products they use are safe when used as intended. If an injury occurs as a result of a defective product, or one that is inadequately designed or improperly labeled, the manufacturer and/or distributor of the product can be found liable. A product liability claim is a legal claim filed in a civil court that seeks to recover damages from liable parties for expenses and impacts that were incurred by the use of an unsafe product. While there is certainly a lot of information about the things you should do when filing a product liability claim, there are also several things that you should NOT do when filing this type of claim.
1. Do Not Wait to File
Product liability claims fall under the wide umbrella of personal injury law. Each state has its own statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim, with the time limit for filing generally starting on the date on which the injury occurred. In some circumstances, there are factors that will cause the court to “toll” this statute of limitations — such as being unaware for some time that the product had caused an injury. However, you should not count on receiving an exception to the statute of limitations until or unless your attorney states that one is available in your case.
2. Do Not Forget to Look For Additional Sources of Liability
Product liability claimants are generally not relegated to only being allowed to claim one source’s liability. Your product liability claim can involve numerous defendants, provided there is evidence to prove that liability. Some examples of other potentially liable parties can include health care providers, in claims involving a defective medical product, if there was also a medical error that led to additional liability; distributors of the produce — such as retailers — if those distributors knew or reasonably should have known there was a defect; a mechanic who installs a defective vehicle part if he or she had reason to know the part was defective when installed.
Each source of liability presents an additional insurance resource. As insurance policies are the way that the vast majority of product liability claims are paid, it helps to have the guidance of your attorney to determine all sources of liability and all insurance resources that are available to compensate you.
3. Do Not Underestimate Your Own Liability
Many cases are not so cut and dried to present one victim and one liable party. In truth, many victims bear some liability of their own for their injuries. While having some liability for your injury generally will not preclude you from filing a legal claim against other liable parties, the at-fault party’s insurance company will work hard to prove that your injury is entirely your own fault. It is important that you share with your attorney the actions that you took that could indicate liability on your own part and allow him or her to mitigate those claims.
4. Do Not Forget to Keep Evidence Related to Your Product Liability Claim
In order to have a successful product liability claim, you must prove:
- The product featured a design or manufacturing defect, or an issue with the instruction label, that made it unsafe for consumers.
- The manufacturer, designer, or distributor of this product knew or had reason to know about the defect, but failed to warn consumers.
- You were injured as a result of this design or manufacturing defect or improper labeling of the product.
- You experienced specific expenses and life impacts as a result of the injury you incurred from the defective product.
Your ability to prove these elements of your case relies greatly on evidence. Keep everything related to your claim, including the defective product, the receipt for the product, photos of any visible injuries you incurred, and paperwork regarding your specific complaints and expenses, such as medical bills or time you missed from work due to your injury.
5. Do Not File Your Product Liability Claim on Your Own
Product liability claims are complex. The at-fault party’s insurance providers will most certainly have capable legal staff on their side in order to disprove your claims, you deserve to have someone on your side as well, to offer a number of valuable services to help improve the outcome of your claim, including:
- Guidance as to your legal options.
- A proper valuation of your case based on the injuries and expenses you have incurred and the impacts on your life you have experienced.
- A determination of all liable parties.
- Skilled negotiation aimed at garnering a fair settlement offer on your behalf.
- Litigation, including the delivery of opening and closing statements, the presentation of evidence, and the examination of witnesses.
- Assistance with collecting your award or settlement.
Contact us right away to learn more about the legal process of filing a claim and for a free consultation.