When a defective product hurts someone, liability often falls on the item’s manufacturer or designer. A dangerous item can cause serious harm to a person, and nearly anything can be involved in such a claim. A toaster that catches on fire due to faulty wiring, a child’s toy that presents a choking hazard, an SUV that is prone to rolling over; all of these are common subjects of injury claims. However, before a victim can win a claim against a manufacturer or designer, they have to prove several things.
WHAT DOES A VICTIM HAVE TO DEMONSTRATE IN A DEFECTIVE PRODUCT CASE?
Before liability is determined in an injury claim, a victim has to tie together four elements to produce a cohesive claim.
First, a victim has to show that they were injured. A judge won’t award a settlement to someone who only experiences a near miss. Emotional or mental suffering may win additional compensation if a victim is injured but aren’t typically enough to win a claim on their own. Because a victim will have to demonstrate their injuries clearly, it is best to keep a detailed account of all medical records.
Second, a victim has to prove that the item is flawed in some way. Some claims are easier to prove than others. For example, if a piece of furniture collapses because it was put together with cheap hardware, this will be easy to prove. If a vehicle rolls over because its center of gravity is too high, this may be harder to show. Unless the design flaw is obviously dangerous, it can be difficult to communicate the flaw to the court. These claims almost always require expert testimony if they are to be successful.
Third, the victim has to prove that the flaw was responsible for any injuries. As long as the victim can prove that the item in question was flawed, it’s not hard to link the flaw to the injuries. Medical records and doctor testimony are typically enough.
Last, it must be clear that the victim was using the item appropriately at the time of the injury. For example, if the brakes fail on a vehicle resulting in a crash, but the driver is traveling well over the speed limit, the defendant may claim that the motorist’s reckless driving was the cause of injury. In general, if the victim was using the item in a way that could be reasonably expected by a manufacturer, then the manufacturer or designer will be responsible for damages.
WHAT SHOULD A VICTIM DO IF A DEFECTIVE PRODUCT HURTS THEM?
To prove liability, a victim will need as much information as possible to support their case. Medical records are an important element of a case, as is expert testimony. In the moments following an accident, a victim can greatly help their case if they take photos of the item’s flaws and any injuries sustained.
Of course, the top priority is seeking medical attention, but the more documentation a victim has entered into a claim, the better the chances of being rewarded adequate compensation.