Elements of Proving a Product Liability Claim
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Justin A. Smith with Sloan Firm.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a potentially defective product, it may help to know what goes into proving a product liability claim. There are multiple kinds of product defects to watch out for, and with each one of the available evidence may differ. In some cases it may be necessary to reach out to a product liability attorney to identify if a defect was even at play or if user error might have been the cause of the injury.
There are four types of product defects.
- Manufacturing Defects: These defects occur due to a flaw in the manufacturing process that prevents a product from working the way it’s designed to.
- Design Defects: These defects occur when a product fails its intended purpose due to a problem with the actual design of the product.
- Products Lacking Adequate Warnings: The failure to provide adequate and appropriate warnings regarding how to use a product safely is a common defect.
- Failure to Account for Foreseeable Misuse: Foreseeable misuse refers to the ability to predict obvious ways a consumer or those in the vicinity of the consumer may use a product improperly.
There are steps you can take without an attorney to begin proving a product liability claim.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a potentially defective product, there are a variety of steps you can take to begin collecting evidence on behalf of and establishing the legitimacy of a product liability claim. While a product liability attorney can certainly assist with many of these steps and may have a greater understanding of further evidence to be collected, much of these can be done without the help of a legal expert as well. Some steps to take to begin proving a product liability claim include the following:
- Seek medical care. Regardless of the severity of the injury, it’s important to seek medical care immediately after sustaining an injury from a potentially defective product. Not only does this ensure you receive the care you need as soon as possible, but it can also prevent the possibility of future arguments against the legitimacy of your injuries.
- Take photos. It’s important to take pictures of the product itself, any packaging or instructional material included with it, as well as any damaged property or injuries sustained as a result of the product. For example, if you were injured by an exploding pressure cooker, take pictures of anywhere the food splattered to ensure there is a record of the extent of the incident. If possible, take pictures of the product in the same form it was in when the accident occurred.
- Preserve materials. It’s important to keep the product itself, the packaging, and any accompanying materials in your possession. You may need to later present this evidence in court to prove the existence of a defect. If you have already turned the product into the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), you may contact them to request to have the item returned to you.
- Avoid publicly discussing your case. While it may be tempting to post on social media about your injuries and the incident occurred, or to publicly protest the product’s defect, it may be wise to refrain from doing so until you speak with a legal professional. Anything posted on social media or spoken in a public forum may be later used against you in unexpected ways to weaken your case.
- Consider likelihood of defect versus user error. This can be a tricky factor to identify on one’s own, and you may find that you need to reach out to an expert in the field to get a true assessment of the likelihood of a product defect versus user error. However, as a general rule, if a product that shouldn’t be dangerous causes an injury, a defect might be present.
- Reach out to an attorney. After following all of the above steps, reach out to a product liability attorney to discuss your case. Most of these attorneys offer free consultations and can offer guidance regarding how you can go about filing a product liability claim if you decide you would like to do so.
To learn more about how to prove a product liability claim, or for help filing your own, seek counsel from a product liability attorney.