Product liability cases refer to personal injury claims brought by consumers who are injured by a defective product. Most product liability claims fall under theories of negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty. There are no federal product liability laws, so any product liability claims must be brought under state-specific laws, which can vary greatly from state to state.
Questions will vary based on state law, but you should expect your product liability lawyer to ask questions surrounding the specifics of your case, so be prepared to come with a summary of what happened.
Was the Product Defective?
In order to prove a product liability case, a plaintiff needs to prove the product was defective. There are three different types of defects involved in a product liability case:
- Design Defects: Was the design of the product flawed, making it unreasonably dangerous? Danger doesn’t always mean there is a design flaw, though, so a product liability lawyer will ask questions in order to make this distinction.
- Manufacturing Defects: Was the product designed correctly, but during the manufacturing process, a flaw was created? Was a part missing?
- Marketing Defects: Did the producer fail to warn consumers of a particular hazard associated with the product?
These may not be questions you’ll be able to answer initially without further investigation when meeting with a product liability lawyer, but coming prepared to a consultation with a full accounting of what happened will help.
Did the Product Defect Cause Your Injury?
A consumer must be able to prove the product defect directly caused the injury. It isn’t enough to say it did. Would the injury have happened regardless of the product defect? An easy example is a vehicle prone to flipping. Did you wreck the car because you were speeding or did the car crash because it was in the process of flipping over?
Since product liability generally falls under negligence and strict liability theories, fault plays a major role and can have mitigating results. Did any of your actions contribute to the injury? Did the product contain instructions and labels for proper use?
How Has the Injury Affected your Life?
If you’re able to prove there was a product defect and you’re able to prove the defect caused injury, you’ll still need to be able to prove the injury led to specific damages. A product liability lawyer will want to know how this injury has affected your life. Has it led to medical bills and other related expenses? Has it led to lost wages? Loss of future earning capacity? Physical pain and suffering?
Were You Using the Product as It Was Intended?
A product must be used in the manner in which it was intended in order for a product liability claim to be successful. Conversely, if a manufacturer could reasonably expect an ordinary consumer to use the product in the way it was used, then a claim for product liability would still be valid even if it’s used in a manner in which it wasn’t intended.
Be Prepared to Gather All Relevant Documents
Since injury is such an important aspect of a product liability, a product liability lawyer is going to ask for any and all relevant documents pertaining to the case. This includes, but is not limited to, a list of health care providers relating to the injury, relevant medical records, letters from doctors, insurance information, and, if applicable, proof of lost wages.
Getting the Help You Need
Product liability claims can be lengthy and costly. Since the laws vary from state to state, it’s important to contact a personal injury lawyer that has experience with product defects. A lawyer experienced in product liability will be able to help you navigate the process in a way that’s most beneficial to you.