Five Ways to Protect Your Rights Even If You’re Unsure About Your Product Liabilty Case
June 6, 2017
If you believe a defective product caused your injury, it’s critical to take timely steps to protect your legal rights. Of course, defects are often difficult to prove or even understand. It’s easy to doubt your instincts, especially if no one else has filed a consumer complaint or lawsuit against the manufacturer. Still, it’s important to understand that product-related injuries often occur long before manufacturers, distributors, and retailers publicly acknowledge a defect.
Your injury could be the first in a long line of similar incidents yet to surface. Even if you’re uncertain, it’s crucial to discuss your situation with a legal professional. A product liability attorney will evaluate your case and work hard to protect your legal rights.
Defective products are out there
The airbag manufactured by the Japanese company, Takata, is one example of a product that took years for the defect to become common knowledge. Takata’s own research confirmed a defect in 2004 yet they delayed before reporting it to US safety agencies. In the meantime, airbags malfunctioned in vehicles across the country. Related accidents caused injuries and several deaths. A Takata product recall began in 2008 and is ongoing.
Hoverboards have presented a known danger for several years. Early models of the popular self-balancing scooters have lithium-ion batteries, which may overheat and cause fires. A number of board manufacturers have issued product recalls and replacement programs. Unfortunately, consumers are still using some of the defective boards. In fact, a board manufactured by LayZ Board caused a fatal house fire in March 2017. This event triggered a new Consumer Product Safety Commission warning.
Protect Your Rights
Product liability cases are too complicated to handle without legal representation. Successfully pursuing your case requires recognition of the problem, research, product testing, and knowledge of product liability legal issues. A product liability attorney performs all of these tasks on your behalf. Unfortunately, during the period that passes after your injury and before you realize you need legal help, you must protect your own rights. Here are five simple things to consider.
1. Seek medical treatment for your injury
If you are hurt, get medical treatment. If a machine, toy or any other product caused the incident, explain that to the emergency medical personnel so they can formally document it in their records.
2. Document your version immediately
You might not recognize that you have a valid product liability claim until you learn about similar incidents. That’s why it’s prudent to document any accidental injury by writing down your version as soon as possible. When your attorney reviews your case, you’ll have timely, accurate facts to guide the investigation.
3. Report your injury to the retailer
If you suspect that a product defect caused your injury, report it to the retailer where you purchased the product. Keep it simple, not a lot of details. Never admit liability. Just place the company on notice that you were hurt by a product purchased from their retail location. Your attorney can also do this in a formal letter.
4. Don’t let a liability adjuster have the product!
If an insurance investigator calls you about your injury, it’s best to consult with an attorney to respond on your behalf. Claims adjusters use uncertainties and ambiguities in your statement to discredit you and defend the manufacturer. Also, the insurance adjuster will ask you to release the product for testing. The request may sound innocent enough, but if the manufacturer or an independent testing facility conducts destructive testing, your expert may find it impossible to prove a defect. There’s also the possibility that the insurance company may never return the defective product.
5. Don’t procrastinate
Like all injury cases, you must make your claim before the statute of limitations expires. The Tennessee product liability statute of limitations varies. Still, you must meet your deadline or risk losing your right to present a claim for damages.
It’s important to discuss timing, damages, and other key issues with a product liability attorney as soon as possible. If you suspect that a product caused your injury, contact us for a free case consultation.