How to File a Defective Product Claim
If you recently suffered injuries or other damages due to a defective product, you may be able to secure compensation for your losses by filing a defective product claim. It’s important for all Americans to know their rights as consumers, and the legal protections in place to prevent manufacturers from releasing dangerous, ineffective, or exploitative products. If you believe you have a defective product claim, it’s important to act quickly for the best chance at securing compensation for your damages. Speak to a Kansas City personal injury attorney for more information.
The first step in filing a defective product claim is navigating the statute of limitations. While every state has individual laws concerning defective product claims, the most common statute of limitations for filing these claims is two years from the date of injury.
Some acute and traumatic injuries like broken bones, head injuries, and burns are easy to identify, and the statute of limitations, therefore, starts counting down as soon as the injury occurs. For degenerative conditions caused by long-term exposure or conditions that do not result in immediate symptoms, the statute of limitations starts on the date the victim discovers the harm from the defective product.
Some manufacturers may attempt to start the statute of limitations as soon as possible by indirectly notifying consumers of a known defect. For example, a manufacturer may send a notification to consumers that they may return and replace a specific product without specifically stating the reason for the replacement. Functionally, this serves as notice of the defective product and would start the countdown on the statute of limitations.
There are also additional time limits you may encounter at the state level. For example, a state may have an absolute time limit of ten years from the sale date for defective product claims, so if you don’t discover the harm from a defective product and file a claim within those ten years, you would effectively lose your right to file a lawsuit.
Drafting a Complaint and Proving a Claim
Once you have retained the services of a product liability lawyer and are sure you are within the statute of limitations for filing a defective product claim, your attorney will help you draft your initial complaint to the defendant. The complaint will outline your personal information, the elements of your claim, and the evidence you have to prove that the defendant is liable for your injuries. Your attorney will also advise you as to the damages you can claim.
In a product liability claim, the plaintiff does not need to prove negligence on the part of the defendant, only that the product in question had a defect that directly caused the plaintiff’s damages. Manufacturers are strictly liable for defects that occur during the production process. In some cases, the defendant may need to prove they were not negligent in the design, production, or marketing of a product. A product can be defective in any of three possible ways:
- Defective design. An inherent flaw in the design of the product creates the defect; thereby affecting all of the units produced using that design.
- Defective production. A flaw in the manufacturing or assembly process caused the defect, potentially only affecting certain units or production lots.
- Defective marketing. The manufacturer did not include adequate safety warnings, instructions for use, or did not accurately represent the product in advertisements and marketing materials.
The plaintiff will also need to provide evidence that proves the extent of his or her damages. This can include medical reports from the claimant’s physician, invoices for medical treatment, records proving lost wages, and any other documentation that establishes a link between the defendant’s defective product and the plaintiff’s losses.
If you are unsure about the strength of your case, an experienced product liability attorney can help assess the facts of your case and let you know your chances of succeeding with a defective product claim. Your attorney should help you gather the evidence necessary to prove the extent of your damages and ensure your complaint meets the applicable statute of limitations.