You recently used a product, but something went wrong. You became injured as a result. Now you have to deal with medical bills and missed time from work. Your emotional and physical pain affects not only you, but your spouse and children as well.
Fortunately, you might have legal grounds to receive compensation. Here are some of the basics you should know to help you determine whether you have a case.
Examples of Defective Products
Any product that could injure a person due to faulty labeling, design flaws, or manufacturing mistakes is considered defective.
Some examples of defective products include:
- Toys with small parts that might lead to choking in children
- Heaters and electric blankets that overheat and cause fires
- Faulty machinery and tools that result in workplace accidents
- Asbestos materials that can cause lung problems
- Defective drugs that potentially trigger unexpected side effects
- Defective household chemicals that lead to skin irritation and poisoning
- Contaminated food that lead to food poisoning
- Poorly designed vehicles that increase the likelihood of crashing
Note that if any of these products provide safety warnings, you may not have a case. Keep reading to find out why.
Causes for Product Defects
If you believe you have a defective product case, make sure your scenario fits into one of the following categories:
- Design Defects:
The product’s design is unsafe. For example, if a child’s toy contains small detachable parts that children might swallow, the designer should have designed it differently.
- Manufacturing Defects:
A mistake during the building or assembly process caused the product to malfunction. You may also be able to prove that the manufacturer neglected an important duty to ensure the product was safe to use. For example, the staff may have neglected to test the defective product before putting it on the market.
- Failure to Warn:
Manufacturers and retailers must include a warning label with inherently dangerous products. While you cannot sue simply because an item is dangerous, you can pursue your case if the manufacturer failed to forewarn you of the dangers.
Requirements for a Successful Product Defect Case
Now that you know the basics about defective product cases, you need to determine whether you have a case. Before seeking a lawyer, answer the following questions:
- Was the product responsible for your injury?
Sometimes people sustain injuries while using a defective product, yet the product itself did not cause the injury. For example, you used a dangerous household cleaner to scrub your bathroom. You slipped and fell on the wet floor. You received an injury not because the cleaner burned your skin but because you failed to mop up the water. When you file your case, you must prove your injury resulted from using the product.
- Did the accident occur recently?
You cannot wait years before pursuing a product defect case. Ask your lawyer about time restrictions in your state.
- Did you use the object appropriately?
You must be able to prove that you used the product as the manufacturers intended. For example, you used a faulty machine at work and received an injury. But your injury occurred because you didn’t follow safety protocols, not because of the machine’s defects.
- Was the product the same as when you originally bought it?
The defense may wonder if you changed the product in such a way that it caused injury. For example, if you rebuilt your car in a way that made it dangerous to drive, you cannot hold the manufacturer responsible for your injuries.
- Can you prove the product caused you physical, emotional, or financial harm?
Your lawyer will need to see proof of harm. Collect documents, such as medical bills, and ask your doctor to write a statement about your physical condition. Bring this information to your lawyer.
These questions provide a good framework to help you decide whether to pursue your case. However, even if you can’t answer all these questions, you should still speak with a lawyer. He or she will listen to your story and examine the evidence to help you determine whether you have a case.
Talking to a Lawyer About Your Case
When you bring your case to a lawyer, he or she will guide you through the legal process. If your lawyer thinks you have a case, he or she will examine evidence, consult expert opinions, and bring your case to court if necessary.
If you win your case, the liable parties will award you compensation. This can cover the cost of medical bills and lost time at work, as well as the suffering you and your family members have experienced. If doctors haven’t yet ascertained the fully extent of your injury, the liable party may consider a structured settlement to ensure you receive your full dues.
Additionally, the court may require the company to correct the problem or remove the product entirely to protect others from similar injuries.