Manufacturers and sellers have a variety of defenses against product liability claims. Arguments in these cases can be very complex, requiring knowledge of engineering, science and manufacturing techniques. As a result, you should retain an experienced Product Liability lawyer to make sure that all of your legal rights are protected.
- Plaintiffs in a personal injury case must act within a time limit, or “limitation period”. Some states also have “statutes of repose”, which prevent any legal action against the product after products reach a certain age, no matter when the plaintiff was injured.
- You must be able to connect the product which caused injury with the party or parties responsible for its manufacture or sale. Locating a manufacturer of a certain product may be difficult or the product may have been manufactured in another country.
- Manufacturers can argue that the plaintiff or a seller altered the product after it was out of the manufacturer's control and that this alteration caused the injury. They can also argue that the product was misused and that the injury therefore arose from misuse of a reasonably safe product.
State law varies on which defenses apply. Many other defenses may also be made. You should discuss your case with an attorney with experience in product liability law to determine whether these defenses apply to your case.
Protecting Your Legal Rights
If you are injured by a defective product, the most important step is to consult an attorney with experience in product liability law as quickly as possible. These cases are often very complex and require technical evidence. As a result, an attorney's expertise is vital from the earliest steps to ensure all evidence is examined and your legal rights are protected. Contacting an attorney should be your first priority after the obtaining of medical care.
Immediately secure the product in order to guarantee that it is available for investigation and to guarantee that its condition does not change from the condition that caused injury.
It should be secured in a facility that is controlled by you and/or your attorney. Unless the product presents an immediate danger, you should not dispose of it. Do not sell or return the product before consulting an attorney. If you cannot immediately secure the product, inform those with custody over the object, such as tow-truck operators or your employer that they must take every possible step to preserve the evidence. If the product is lost or altered, the defendant may be able to successfully argue that your case should be summarily dismissed because the defense did not have an opportunity to inspect the product and defend itself against your claims. Your attorney may be required to file a temporary restraining order to prevent alterations or testing on the product while it is in another party's control.
Whenever possible, assemble all documentation related to the product, including receipts, instruction booklets, warranties and any other related documents. Your attorney will need the product's complete history. Your product liability attorney may also need your help in determining whether the product was modified or altered after it left the control of the manufacturer and the names of those responsible for the alterations as well as the date of any alterations.
Expert assistance is generally required in a product liability case. Engineers, medical professionals, and safety experts can all contribute to a successful case. Finding a qualified expert to support your case as soon as possible can be the deciding factor in a successful product liability action. Not only can an expert engineer identify manufacturing defects, but human factor experts can also show that while a product may appear to work, its design is actually unsafe for human operation. Expert testing may also prove that your injury can be reproduced by those using the product in the manner that caused the injury.
The best way to secure expert testimony and to protect your rights in general is to seek the assistance of a competent product liability lawyer.