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The world is full of danger. It’s a simple fact and one that we are all aware of on one level or another. Despite this fact, however, most of us feel pretty safe in the majority of situations. One situation where we tend to feel safe is when we are using a theoretically harmless product intended for the general public. Unfortunately, product defects result in millions of injuries and tens of thousands of deaths every year in the United States.
If you are injured by a defective product, there are several important steps you need to take to ensure your safety and put yourself in the best position for receiving fair compensation for your injuries.
Step One: Seek Medical Attention
Anytime you suffer an injury, the most important thing is to get treatment to ensure your health and safety. Getting medical attention immediately is not only necessary for your wellbeing but can also be incredibly helpful in any potential legal proceedings.
Delayed attention between the incident and a medical record of the injuries caused can leave attorneys for the other side a possibility of sowing doubt about whether the recorded injuries, in fact, resulted from the defective product or not. They can also argue that your injuries worsened as a result of delayed treatment, for which their client would not be liable.
You need documented evidence of your injury and that you received immediate medical aid in order to properly build your case and give your lawyer the best chance of getting you a fair settlement.
Step Two: Gather Evidence
After getting your injuries treated, the next most important thing is to document the evidence. Everyone has seen enough police procedural shows to have a basic understanding of how to gather evidence. In this case, you will take on the role of a police officer, building a case against the product manufacturers. The most important piece of evidence is going to be the defective product itself.
The defective product will most likely be your single greatest piece of evidence, so don’t throw it out. Put it somewhere safe, and do not tamper with it further. You want it to remain in the same condition it was in immediately following the malfunction. You will want to keep the product along with any documentation for the item, your medical records, and pictures of everything until your lawyer requests them.
Having a thorough photographic record of everything can be very helpful. You want pictures of the scene, your injury, the defective product, and anything else that you feel is relevant to your case. Your lawyer can sort through what is helpful and what is not.
Step Three: Contact a Product Liability Lawyer
Nobody should ever represent themselves in court. Even lawyers hire other lawyers to represent them in their personal legal matters. Hiring a product liability lawyer with relevant experience is your best bet to a satisfactory outcome. Just as it is important to seek medical attention immediately after an accident, it is also important to contact a lawyer early. The fresher the incident is the better position in which your lawyer will be.
Witness testimony may be key to your lawsuit. If so, it is important to get this testimony on the record as soon as possible. The further removed a person is from the incident in question, the less reliable their memory becomes. A product liability lawyer may also have additional requests for gathering evidence that may no longer be available if too much time has passed.
Step Four: Determine What Type of Defect Occurred
There are three types of a product defect:
- Design Defect
- Manufacturing Defect
- Marketing Defect
A design defect is a problem at the core of a product. The design of the product makes it so that even if it is perfectly manufactured, it still poses an unnecessary danger. All dangerous products are not defective. A knife is dangerous, but not due to a defect. It is dangerous because it needs to be in order to accomplish the task for which it was designed.
The defect occurs when the item is hazardous in a way that is not associated with performing its primary function.
A manufacturing defect occurs when a product is well designed, but something goes wrong during the manufacturing of the item. Maybe it is related to inferior material, or a problem with the machinery used in the manufacturing process. Often a manufacturing defect comes down to human error and affects a batch of an item, rather than the item’s entire line.
A marketing defect occurs when there are dangers associated with the product, which are not unreasonable or arising from an error in construction. The risks are there and are considered to be within appropriate standards. However, they are not properly advertised. Basically, a marketing defect comes down to missing warning labels.
When you look at some products, you will see many warnings that you may find excessive. The high number of warning labels is because the makers of the product are cautious to cover all of their bases so that they don’t receive lawsuits with claims of a marketing defect.
Step Five: Document Your Injuries As They Heal
Keeping a journal and photo record of your injuries and how they are affecting your life can be very helpful in building your case and supporting your claim of pain and suffering. At the same time, this record should be kept private. Share it with your lawyer but do not post comments or pictures relating to your injury on social media.
By following all of these steps, you will set yourself up to get the compensation you deserve. Nobody should have to suffer a grievous injury while using a supposedly harmless product. Contact a product liability lawyer to get a free consultation and figure out your next steps