Mistakes People Make After Being Injured by a Defective Product
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of S. Randall "Randy" Hood with McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC.
Commonly defective products can include kitchen appliances, children’s toys, pharmaceuticals, car parts, and more. Manufacturers in each of these and other industries have a legal obligation to provide a reasonably safe product that can serve its intended purpose; if a manufacturer fails to do so resulting in a dangerous or defective product, the injured victim may be eligible to seek compensation via court in a civil product liability claim. However, certain mistakes made following the product injury could create obstacles to the recovery process and make it harder to obtain a successful verdict or settlement.
Common mistakes people make after being injured by a defective product include:
- Waiting to seek medical care. Waiting to seek medical care after being injured by a defective product can make it harder to prove the legitimacy of your injury further down the road, as it could inspire the manufacturer to argue that you couldn’t have been significantly injured if you were able to wait to go to the doctor. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to seek medical care right away, rather than toughing it out or hoping the injury will heal on its own. Seeking medical care not only strengthens the legitimacy of the injury but also ensures that an official record exists documenting when and how the injury happened, not to mention allowing you to begin receiving the care you need as soon as possible.
- Throwing away the item. The most important piece of evidence in any product liability case is the product itself; this is why it’s important to maintain possession of the item no matter what. If you already turned the product into the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), you may ask to have it returned to you. If you can leave the product in the same condition it was in when the injury occurred, that’s even better. Cleaning up or attempting to fix the item could make it harder for product liability experts to recreate the event and detect any potential defect.
- Throwing away the packaging. While the packaging may not be as technically important as the product itself, it can still play an extremely important role in proving whether or not a product was dangerous; for example, if the included instructions were insufficient to use the product safely and/or did not include adequate warnings, this could indicate the manufacturer was negligent in allowing an injury to occur. Product packaging, instructions, warranty pages, and even receipts from purchase can all help piece together the puzzle of how and why the injury occurred, as well as who is legally responsible.
- Cleaning up before taking pictures. It may be tempting to clean up the scene of a product liability accident before taking further steps; however, the pictures taken immediately after an injury can help reconstruct the scene. For example, if a pressure cooker exploded and caused injuries, the victim or their family could seriously benefit from taking pictures of not only the pressure cooker itself from multiple angles, but any other damage or mess that occurred as well, such as food splatter on the walls or ceilings. It may also be helpful to take pictures of the initial injury as well as the state of the injury throughout the healing process.
- Waiting to talk to a lawyer. Product liability cases are notoriously complex; investigating what happens behind the scenes during the design and manufacturing process as well as what regulations should apply can be all but impossible for the average person. This is why it is highly recommended to reach out to an experienced product liability attorney if you or your loved one were injured by a potentially defective product; these attorneys typically offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis, which means clients don’t pay for their services unless they win the case. However, every injury case has a statute of limitations or window of time in which they are eligible to file. Once the clock runs out, the injured party is no longer eligible to seek recovery in a product liability claim. The process of collecting evidence and filing a claim can take some time, so it’s important to reach out to an attorney sooner rather than later.
To learn more about what not to do after being injured by a product, or for help filing a claim of your own, reach out to a product liability attorney in your area.