Product recalls are commonplace in today’s consumer-driven world. Most people read about them all the time but never think a defective product will injure them.
Due to the huge number of products we use on a daily basis, a wide range of injuries can result when a defect occurs. People sustain everything from chemical burns to head injuries.
If you’ve suffered injuries due to a defective product and are facing expensive medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages, you’ll need to file a product liability claim. However, this is a complicated area of the law, which means you’ll need help.
Let’s go over some key steps in the process.
Make Sure You Keep the Product
When your product liability case goes to court, the product itself will be a key piece of evidence. It’s important you try to save it.
This may seem hard if your injuries resulted from a defective airbag in a car or a piece of machinery. If there’s no possible way to keep the defective item, you need to take as many photos as possible.
There’s a good chance an expert witness will need to examine the product down the road. This may end up being a critical factor in your case, so do everything you can to preserve the product.
If you’re dealing with a large item, it may benefit you to put it in storage. This may sound excessive, but it could pay off after you file your claim.
The Different Types of Product Defects
Before you move on in the process, it helps to understand what types of defects lead to product injury claims. You’ll probably know which type you’re dealing with right away.
A manufacturing defect occurs during the production of the item. Many times this happens when the manufacturing of the product doesn’t align with the initial design. Or, they may have used the incorrect materials when making the item.
When a design defect occurs, proper specifications weren’t adhered to during the initial designing of the item. When this happens, a large number of the same product get manufactured with dangerous defects that lead to a specific malfunction.
The final defect involves proper warnings on a product. Manufacturers have a responsibility to include warning labels on items that contain dangerous materials or that could potentially cause harm. If they don’t, they’re liable for injuries.
Once you’ve determined the product that injured you contained a defect, it’s time to start preparing for a claim. The first step is to begin compiling documentation that can help your case.
Make sure you keep all medical records, proof of doctor visits, diagnoses, and bills. You’ll also want to keep evidence of all the medications you must take due to your injuries.
If you’ve had to miss work and are now dealing with lost wages, you’ll need to have a good record of this as well. Gather recent pay stubs and tax forms to show how much you make and how much you’ve lost.
Pain and suffering can also factor into a product liability claim. This involves physical pain that prevents you from enjoying life as you did before. It could also involve depression, post-traumatic stress, or anxiety caused by the injury.
Try to jot down how you feel and how the injury has negatively affected your life. This will help a defective products attorney determine what compensation to fight for.
Understand the Statute of Limitations in Your State
After you’ve sustained an injury as a result of a defective product, you have a certain amount of time to file a claim. This is referred to as a statute of limitations.
Each state has a different statute of limitations, so make sure you find out what it is where you live. Most states are two years, but some are longer.
The statute of limitations starts running on the day you sustain the injury. Once it ends, filing a claim becomes quite difficult.
This is why it’s important to see a doctor immediately after a product-related accident. Even if you don’t feel like you’ve sustained serious injuries, you may start to see the effects in the future.
Many states have rules about filing a claim after you discover an illness related to a product. For example, if you developed cancer from regular use of a product, the statute of limitations starts after you discover the cancer.
Hire an Attorney
You’ve determined you were injured by a product defect and have collected as much evidence as possible. Now it’s time to get an attorney involved.
Many people think they can handle the claim on their own. Unfortunately, this usually ends badly.
A product liability attorney can help defend you from insurance companies that want you to settle for far less than you deserve. They can also negotiate a proper settlement on your behalf and litigate your case in court if needed.
When you hire an attorney, they’ll look at all the evidence and work with you on forming a legal strategy. Many personal injury lawyers will work on a contingency fee basis, which means you won’t have to pay them until they win a settlement for you.
Filing the Claim
After they’ve developed a strategy, the next thing your attorney will do is file the claim. This is a very detailed process and errors aren’t an option. Your lawyer will be able to ensure you have all the required paperwork.
This claim gets filed with the court clerk. Make sure you get a copy from your attorney to keep for your records.
After you’ve filed the claim, your attorney will send copies to the defendant. They’ll also get a summons to appear in court. Once this happens, the wheels of your case are in motion.
Make Sure Your Product Liability Claim Goes Smoothly
A defective product injury can seriously affect your financial stability, employment, and physical wellness. However, you can use the law to get back on your feet.
Remember the steps discussed above when filing a product liability claim and get the compensation you deserve.
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