The first step to a strong defective product case is hiring an experienced defective product lawyer. Unfortunately, defective products cases are more common than people realize. The effects of a defective product can be detrimental.
A defective products attorney will assist in seeking compensation for injuries sustained from a defective product. Often, these types of cases are large and involve many plaintiffs, or injured individuals. This is known as a class action lawsuit.
It is important for an individual to be familiar with the aspects of a defective product case so they can communicate easier with their attorney regarding their case. It may also allow them to gather more relevant documents and share more relevant information during their consultation.
Product liability holds a manufacturer, retailer, or seller of a product liable for allowing a defective product to reach the consumer, whether or not the consumer was negligent. Product liability laws determine what party is responsible for defective and/or dangerous products.
Product liability laws vary by state. It may be possible for any party in the distribution chain to be found liable for a defective product.
A defective product is a product that is unreasonably dangerous when it is used for its intended purpose, without any alteration and/or interference. More specifically, a defective product causes injuries due to a design defect, a manufacturing defect, and/or a marketing defect. Common examples of defective products include food items and children’s toys.
To prove a product liability claim, a plaintiff is required to show:
- A product was defective when manufactured;
- A product’s manufacturer, seller, and/or distributor intended for the product to reach the injured individual without any changes being made in the process; and
- The individual and/or their property was, in some way, injured by the product.
Product defects can be in design, manufacturing, and/or marketing. A design defect is present prior to the product being manufactured. A company may be liable if there was a foreseeable risk during manufacturing and they proceeded anyway. Many states require a plaintiff show that the risk could have been avoided and/or reduced by an alternative product design.
A manufacturing defect occurs during the manufacturing and/or assembly process. These types of defects result from unintentional mistakes that cause a product to be more dangerous that the company and/or the consumer expected. These defects are usually easier to fix because they often only require a change in materials and/or the assembly process.
A marketing defect occurs as a result of insufficient instructions and/or warnings about the use of a product. It may include improper labeling and/or inadequate safety warnings. These types of defects are often associated with a failure to warn the consumer about how to properly use a product and/or a hazard that is associated with using the product.
What Documentation and Questions Should I Gather Before Meeting with a Defective Products Lawyer?
It is important to gather any documents related to the case and compile a list of questions regarding the case prior to a consultation, or meeting, with an attorney. Documents may include:
- Product packaging;
- Product advertisements;
- Photographs of the defective product, if available;
- Photographs of the injuries caused by the defective product, if available;
- Any other evidence of injuries resulting from use of the defective product;
- Any medical documents, including medical bills and/or diagnoses from doctors; and
- Any other documents the attorney determines may be relevant.
It is better to bring a document to the consultation even if an individual is unsure of its relevance. In some cases, the relevance of a document and/or piece of evidence is not realized until after investigation for the case is underway. For example, there may be a common usage and/or issue among plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit.
An attorney may also request further and/or more specific documentation following a consultation after they have time to review the evidence gathered during that time. It is important for an individual to do their best to locate anything requested by their attorney in a timely manner to ensure their claim can move forward.
It is important to compile a list of any questions an individual has regarding their case prior to their consultation. This will ensure they understand the aspects of their case and are comfortable with their attorney. In these types of cases, a consultation may be free of charge. It is important to remember that if an individual is not comfortable communicating with their attorney, they are free to choose another.
What Makes a Defective Products Case Strong? What Makes it Weak?
A strong defective products case starts with a defective products attorney. These cases are often large and extremely complex. In order to obtain compensation for injuries that were caused by a defective product, the plaintiff must prove three elements:
- There was an unreasonably dangerous defect in the product;
- This defect caused the plaintiff’s injury while the product was being used in its intended manner; and
- The product was not substantially changed from the condition in which it was originally sold.
It is also important to be aware of facts that may limit an individual’s recovery. These may include:
- Knowledge of the product’s defect prior to use and using the product despite this knowledge;
- The statute of limitations in the individual’s state; and/or
- The individual’s mishandling of the product, which may include ignoring warnings and/or instructions.
Some product defects can be created by the individual mishandling and/or tampering with the product. It is important to be honest about any modifications or off-label uses of the product, as lying under oath can be charged as a criminal offense.
What are Some Dos and Don’ts for Defective Products Cases?
Some “do’s” for defective products cases include:
- Do: Hire an attorney. Defective products cases are entirely too complicated for an individual to handle on their own.
- Do: Be patient when waiting for a resolution. Class action lawsuits can take a very long time to reach a resolution.
- Do: Be prepared to dissect exactly how you used the product and why. This may be one of the most important aspects of the case.
Some “don’ts” for defective products cases include:
- Don’t: Lie about how you used the product. Somewhere down the line, most likely at trial, the truth will come out and your credibility will be ruined and you may face perjury charges.
- Don’t: Be impatient with your attorney. They have a large amount of information to organize and they will know what they need and how to best present it.
- Don’t: Expect to get rich. In many cases, these class action lawsuits settle for millions of dollars but there are so many plaintiffs, the money each receives is not as much as expected.
When Do I Absolutely Need a Lawyer for Defective Product Issues?
You absolutely need the assistance of an experienced defective product lawyer for any defective product issue. An attorney will be familiar with the local laws in your state regarding defective products and product liability.
Your lawyer will review your case, fight to obtain damages for your injuries, and represent you during any court proceedings, if necessary. As previously mentioned, these cases are often extremely complex and involve multiple plaintiffs. Your attorney may be the difference between compensation for your injuries and suffering alone.