Dangerous products are everywhere, and perhaps you’ve encountered one in recent years. A dangerous product doesn’t have to be explosive, although sometimes they are, like the chemistry sets sold to kids in the 1950s. Sometimes dangerous products fail to function as they should or are missing required safety components.
Medical bills are expensive and you shouldn’t have to pay a dime for injuries that aren’t your fault. If you’ve been injured by a dangerous product of any kind, here’s how to get compensated for your injuries.
1. Speak with an attorney about filing a lawsuit
You have the right to file a product liability or wrongful death lawsuit after being injured by a defective product. However, you only have a certain period of time to seek compensation through the courts.
Your state’s statute of limitations will determine exactly how much time you have to file a lawsuit against the product manufacturer, so contact an attorney right away.
Don’t pursue a product liability or wrongful death claim in court on your own. You need an attorney to win adequate compensation. Pro se litigants do win cases, but they struggle to win more than a small judgment that barely covers their medical bills. Attorneys know exactly how to negotiate to win better compensation.
2. Understand what you’ll need to prove to win
The law regarding product liability is complex when you aren’t used to all the nuances. For example, a product liability case doesn’t determine fault the same way as a personal injury case.
With a personal injury case, you have to prove someone acted with negligence. In a product liability case, you only need to prove the product that injured you was defective at the time it left the manufacturer’s control. You also need to prove that the defect caused your injuries, which is easy to prove in most cases.
3. Be aware of damages you can recover
You can recover the following damages in a defective product case:
- Medical expenses (medical bills can drain your savings account)
- Pain and suffering
- Lost income, including potential income if your injuries are long-term or permanent
- Property damage
- Damages for your spouse if they were injured
- Loss of companionship
- Punitive damages if you’re the first to win a case against the manufacturer for the given defect
You might be able to recover one or more of these types of damages depending on your specific situation. While there are no guarantees, your attorney can inform you regarding possibilities based on their experience with similar cases.
4. Don’t automatically go after the seller
Having a lawyer is crucial because in some states, like Georgia, you can only sue the manufacturer and you can’t sue the wholesaler or retailer who sold you the product.
The only entities that can go after retailers and bypass this type of law are entities like the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. For instance, this organization is currently attempting to hold Amazon liable for selling defective and potentially hazardous items.
So far, Amazon has been caught selling hundreds of thousands of potentially dangerous items to consumers, including flammable children’s sleepwear, hair dryers that lack shock protection, and faulty carbon monoxide alarms.
5. Identify the manufacturer
In order to file a lawsuit, you must identify the manufacturer. Sometimes this seems easy, but if you bought a product from an internet ad and the retailer is selling cheaply made products from an unknown origin, it can be tough tracking down the source.
If you end up being unable to identify the manufacturer, consider emailing the retailer to find out who the manufacturer is. Just don’t give them hints about a possible lawsuit or they may not give you any information.
Find a reputable products liability attorney as soon as possible to avoid making costly mistakes by filing a lawsuit against the wrong party or parties.
6. Prepare for a possible statute of repose
Some states have a statute of repose that requires all product liability lawsuits to be filed within ten years of the product’s date of manufacture. If you’ve been injured by an old product, like a vintage Victorian toy, you won’t have a case even if the manufacturer still exists today.
Even if the manufacturer still produces the same product today without any changes, and new products are potentially dangerous, if your product was made more than ten years ago you won’t have a case under a statute of repose.
Don’t hesitate to file a lawsuit
Some people hesitate to file a lawsuit because they don’t know what to expect. However, with a good product liability lawyer and a strong case, you can expect a favorable outcome.