Product Liability: Protect Yourself against Unsafe Goods

Have you fallen prey to a defective product? The number of injuries and deaths caused by defective products has skyrocketed in recent years. Recent statistics gathered by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission indicate the extent of the defective products epidemic.

Baby formula, children’s toys, prescription drugs, infant car seats, tires, cribs, medical devices — consumers rely on dozens of products every single day. Quite literally, we often entrust our very lives to them. And yet, time and time again, whether it’s due to malfunction, flawed designs, false advertising, or other defects, these products fail us. A quick scan of recent newspaper headlines reveals just how dangerous it can be to entrust your family’s safety to consumer goods these days.

As the process of globalization shifts more and more manufacturing facilities overseas, the stringent product safety guidelines developed by the United States government have less influence than ever before. In foreign plants, the most basic safety standards are often blatantly disregarded. Even in American facilities, the pressure to stay competitive can make it tempting to use cheaper materials and cut corners. At the end of the day, the burden of risk is often passed on to unsuspecting consumers.

As a result, the number of injuries and deaths caused by defective products has skyrocketed in recent years. Recent statistics gathered by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission indicate the extent of the defective products epidemic.

Defective Products Fast Facts

  • Experts estimate that American consumers are currently using more than 23 million defective products.
  • Each year, more Americans are injured or killed as a result of product defects than from all types of street crime combined.
  • Defective consumer products cost the U.S. economy more than $700 billion annually.
  • More than 1,000 defective products are recalled each year, but experts suggest that this represents only a fraction of the dangerous products that are on the market today.
  • An average of over 20,000 Americans die each year as a result of injuries caused by defective products.
  • Over 200,000 children are treated in American emergency rooms each year due to toy-related injuries alone.

Have You Fallen Prey To A Defective Product?

If you or a loved one has been hurt by a defective product, you may be wondering whether you have enough valid evidence to protect your rights in court. Each individual case has its own unique issues and complexities, so it’s important to consult with a personal injury attorney who can help you determine if your situation might merit a lawsuit.

Sometimes, the fact that a defective product caused an illness or injury may not become apparent for months or even years down the line. However, as soon as you begin to suspect that a defective product may be to blame, it’s important to start keeping records about the situation. Use these tips to help ensure that you’ll have enough solid evidence to stand on.

  • Seek medical help. As always, your first concern should be taking care of your injuries and making sure that you and your loved ones are out of harm’s way. When you are seeking medical care for the injury, ask doctors to gather as much detailed information as they can. Make sure you hang on to all of the paperwork, bills, and other medical records.
  • If possible, SAFEGUARD THE PRODUCT. Do not release it to anyone. Gather as much documentation about the product as possible. Keep track of packaging, pieces or fragments of the broken product, receipts, instruction manuals, warranty paperwork — anything and everything that relates to the product. If you can’t safeguard the product because it belongs to someone else, (such as your employer), take photos of the product and the scene of the incident.
  • Try to think like an investigator. What proof do you have that the product acted in a way that was dangerous? Do you have access to any documentation that can help you back up your point? Did any witnesses observe the incident? Your attorney will be able to give you specific instructions about gathering records and documentation.
  • Consult with a qualified personal injury attorney. There are many attorneys who claim to be equipped to handle product liability cases, but it’s important to make sure that the attorney you choose has a proven track record of successful cases. After you’ve narrowed down your choices to a list of finalists, schedule a consultation with each attorney to ensure that you will be able to work well together.