One of the great blessings of modern life in the U.S.A. is our access to an enormous variety of consumer products. While the overwhelming majority of these products are safe, it’s clear to anyone who goes to Google News and types in “product recall” or “product defect,” or browses the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website for recent product recalls, that enough defective – and sometimes outright dangerous – products make it through the supply chain to cause American consumers to be concerned about being injured by them.
In 2017, more than 10 million people in the U.S. were admitted to emergency rooms for treatment of injuries resulting from consumer products, according to the National Safety Council. In many cases, these injuries were not the result of using a product that was defective, but from the misuse of that product (for example, driving a perfectly good automobile into a stone wall). Still, there’s no question that defective products are out there, and you might someday – through absolutely no fault of your own – be injured by one of them.
Getting Compensation for Your Injuries Can Be a Hard Fight
Unfortunately, consumers injured by defective products often face a complicated, uphill battle when attempting to get compensation for their injuries. Product manufacturers, distributors, and retailers typically have deep pockets, which makes it easy for them to fund large teams of lawyers to defend them against lawsuits. Establishing fault, especially with a complex consumer product, may mean doing extensive technical research and engaging the services of expert witnesses, which can make such defective product lawsuits expensive for the injured party to mount. And because of the nature of today’s often complex products (which may include multiple components from multiple sources), it’s not always clear who should be the target of a lawsuit when a person is injured by a defective product.
Consequently, if you’ve been injured by a defective product, it’s imperative that you contact a good personal injury attorney with experience litigating defective product lawsuits. Such an attorney will ask you very specific questions about your injury aimed at deciding whether you have the right to sue the parties responsible for your injury. Do so as early as possible, because New York State’s statute of limitations on defective product lawsuits is just three years (from the date that the injured person knows, or should reasonably know that the product caused the injury).
5 Things You Need to Do If You’re Injured by a Defective Product
- Get medical attention. Defective product injuries can range from mild to outright life-threatening, so it’s important to get immediate treatment for your injuries. Doing this will also produce medical records relating to your injury that will be important in any subsequent lawsuit you may file.
- Document the circumstances surrounding your injury. Take photographs of your injury, the defective product, and any other evidence showing the effects of the defective product (for example, burn marks on the floor or smoke smudges on the ceiling).
- Identify witnesses. Any eyewitnesses to your injury should be identified for future testimony. If none are available, check for surveillance footage that might have recorded your injury (many homes today are equipped with “smart” devices capable of doing this).
- Preserve the evidence. Do not dispose of the defective product. After documenting it photographically, place it in a secure container and store it in a safe place. Retain any packaging, instruction sheets, or other documents included with the product. Also retain any receipts or other documents providing proof of ownership.
- Contact an attorney. In many cases, injured people mistakenly believe that they – not the product – are at fault if an injury happens to befall them as a result of its use, but this may not be the case. Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to be informed about your legal options.