A brief guide to product liability attorneys
If you are injured by a defective product, you are entitled to seek financial compensation for medical expenses, physical damage and emotional distress. Litigation in this field is highly complex and subject to different laws and standards in every state. If you have been injured and wish to seek compensation or are defending yourself against such charges, a product liability attorney can help you present your case. Here are some issues to consider if you get involved in this legal process.
What product liability means
Many people think of a “product” as something solid objects belonging to people: a car, a tool, or any other object that can cause harm. Under the law, though, pets, badly built houses and even faulty maps can all result in defective product lawsuits. People or entities who can be sued for compensation include:
• the manufacturer responsible for specific defective parts
• the corporation responsible for assembling the product
• wholesale merchants who sell defective products to retailers
• retailers who sell defective products to the public
Different grounds exist for a lawsuit. Depending on your state’s laws, a product liability attorney may file a lawsuit seeking to prove:
• Strict liability, which finds makers or retailers of defective products guilty regardless of their intentions
• Negligence, which requires the legal process to determine how much of the blame for a defective product can be assigned to a defandent
• Breach of warranty of fitness is a type of lawsuit suing anyone who knowingly sells a defective product.
The burden of proof for any of these charges varies. Some states require a product liability attorney to demonstrate that any injury was at least half the defendant’s fault or require the plaintiff to prove he was not largely responsible.
There are three different kinds of product defects:
• Design defects have to do with products that have problems before they are manufactured. Carelessness or a lack of proper testing can produce products that don’t even work on paper but are manufactured anyway.
• Manufacturing defects occur during the production process.
• Marketing defects include misleading advertising, incorrect operating instructions or failure to sufficiently warn of potential dangers in using the product
When to file a defective product lawsuit
Product liability attorneys help you determine who is responsible for your injury, what the nature of the defect was, and what you need to prove for a successful lawsuit. Proving someone else is responsible for your injuries is a lengthy process full of complicated procedures and many technicalities. While you are free to file a lawsuit in civil court without the help of a product liability attorney, retaining legal counsel can help negotiate the intricacies of the process.
Before you think about filing a personal injury lawsuit, check to see how long the statue of limitations for such charges is in your state. If the injury happened a long time ago, it may no longer be grounds for a lawsuit.
What to do if you’re injured
After you are injured, make sure to take care of your health before seeking out a product liability attorney. Visit an emergency room if necessary and file a report with your health insurance company. You may not be guaranteed any settlement money, but you may still be able to cover some of your medical expenses this way.
From the moment of your injury, keep as much documentation as possible. Evidence that can help product liability attorneys press charges include:
• Records of medical costs
• Evidence of loss income
• Photographs of visible injuries, if any
• Photographs of the defective product and scene of the accident
• The names and contact information of any witnesses
Finding a product liability attorney
If you believe you have a substantive case and evidence that you have been injured as the direct result of a defective product, you should act quickly to file a lawsuit. You may choose to file a civil suit using “pro se” guidelines for civilians, but for most people it will be difficult to follow the proper procedures or determine which federal and state guidelines apply in their case. Additionally, suing a large business can be a nerve-wracking procedure. Product liability attorneys can be helpful in providing specialized knowledge to help build your case.
If you can afford private legal counsel, ask relatives and friends for any recommendations they have. A local or state bar association may also be able to refer you to a specialist in your field for a small fee. You may need to speak with more than one product liability attorney before finding someone you trust to honestly and competently act on your behalf.
Your first meeting with a product liability attorney
Before meeting with any lawyer, assemble all of your documentation. Product liability attorneys need all the evidence you have before they can give you their opinion on the strengths and potential outcome of your case. It is important to be open and honest. Similarly, any lawyer you talk to should provide a detailed explanation of what you should realistically expect from the legal process.
Litigation can be a lengthy, expensive, time-consuming process. Product liability attorneys may make outlandish promises in pursuit of a cheap settlement. Think hard about how much time and money you are willing to contribute. You may be willing to settle for a small, out-of-court settlement, or you may demand your day in court. Make sure you clearly communicate the course of action you want your lawyer to pursue.
A successful product liability lawsuit will normally end with a settlement. If your case is strong enough, many product liability attorneys may be willing to represent you on a contingency basis. This means they will collect a set percentage of any money you are awarded. However, you may still have to pay for some expenses leading up to trial, such as fees for filing paperwork or hiring expert witnesses to testify on your behalf. Ask if your lawyer can cover any of these fees.