Navigating Your Product Liability Claim Process

Last Updated: 

April 5, 2024

You place a certain amount of trust in a manufacturer when you use or purchase a product. You expect the product to do exactly what the label and description state. You also don’t think about injuries unless the product comes with explicit warnings. 

Even then, if you carefully follow the product instructions you have a reasonable expectation everything will work just fine. Unfortunately, injuries and other damages can happen. Now, you’re dealing with the complexities of product liability claims.

From determining the responsible parties to proving negligence, product liability claims can leave you frustrated and confused.

Key Takeaways on the Process of Product Liability Claim

  1. Proving Defects: Identifying manufacturing, design, or marketing defects is crucial for a valid product liability claim.
  2. Establishing Causation: You must demonstrate that the product defect directly caused your injuries or damages to proceed with your claim.
  3. Suffering Damages: Only injuries or damages resulting from proper product use qualify for a product liability claim.
  4. Meeting Negligence or Liability Standards: You can pursue a claim based on negligence or product liability guidelines, depending on the circumstances.
  5. Breach of Warranty: If the product warranty terms aren't honoured, you may have grounds for a liability claim.
  6. Product Identification: Identifying the product and its manufacturer is essential for filing a successful claim.
  7. Statute of Limitations: Be aware of the time limit for filing a product liability claim, which varies by state.
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Simplifying the Product Liability Claims Process

While it’s tough to simplify almost any type of legal claim or process, the law can be complex, even for legal scholars. 

However, if you have a general idea of the product liability claims process, it can make it easier to know if you have a valid case.

Prove a Defect is Present

Before you can file a product liability claim you must prove there’s a defect, and this goes beyond simply exclaiming the product malfunctioned. The manufacturer or other potentially liable party can easily respond that you used the item incorrectly. 

Now, you’re stuck playing a game of who says what. and it’s not one the courts are going to let either side win—in other words, it’s a stalemate and you’re not going to receive compensation for your damages.

There are three types of product defects that can help support your claim, including:

  1. Manufacturing defects: These defects pop up during the manufacturing process and affect the original product design. What was designed as a safe product now presents a potential danger to consumers because of a mistake made in the manufacturing process.
  2. Design defects: This type of defect occurs in the design stage. The design flaw makes the product dangerous before it hits the manufacturing line.
  3. Marketing defects: When a manufacturer fails to warn consumers about potential risks or provide instructions for safe use, it’s known as a marketing defect.

Your product liability claim must meet at least one of these defects to be considered valid.

Prove the Product Is Responsible for Your Damages

This part of the product liability claim process is referred to as causation. This is when you establish the product’s defect is the direct cause of your injuries. You must show your injuries and/or other damages wouldn’t have occurred if the product wasn’t defective.

For example, if your injuries are from a defective airbag and you’re also involved in a car accident. You must prove the defect in the airbag is directly responsible for your broken nose and not the vehicle collision.

Suffer Injuries or Other Damages

Sometimes products come out of the package damaged or they simply don’t work. This isn’t grounds for a product liability claim. Instead, contact the seller or manufacturer and request a refund. If a product liability claim is filed every time something goes wrong with an item, the court calendar will be booked for years in advance.

You must suffer injuries or other damages to file a product liability claim. Your damages can include medical costs, property repair or replacement, lost income, pain, and suffering. Yes, you can claim both economic and non-economic damages in a product liability lawsuit.

You’re Using the Product Correctly

Most products come with instructions. Even clothes hangers have a small tag instructing you how to use the product. Even if you’ve come up with an entirely new use for the item that’s better than the manufacturer's, it doesn't count in a product liability case.

Your injuries and/or other damages must occur when you’re properly using the product. If you’re using it in any way other than the recommendations, your product liability claim isn't going to go very far. A good tip is to always read product instructions before using any item.

Meet Negligence or Liability Guidelines

You can typically pursue a product liability claim if your case meets one or both of the following guidelines:

  • The manufacturer, designer, seller, etc. fails to exercise reasonable care. This may qualify as negligence.
  • Product liability guidelines are a little easier to prove. You don’t need to show negligence, only that the product has a flaw or defect.

Remember, the product defect must be directly responsible for your damages. There can’t be any other cause for your injuries.

Breach of Warranty

Okay, some products come with warranties, others you can choose to purchase separately. When you have a product warranty, there’s a reasonable expectation you’re covered if something goes wrong.

If the company, group, individual, etc doesn’t honour the terms of the warranty, you may have grounds for a product liability claim if you’re injured or experience other types of damages.

Product Identification Information

This can be a little more difficult to prove. You must be able to identify the product in your liability claim. Since not all items come with identifying marks, this can be complex. However, most manufacturers mark their products with either serial or model numbers. The manufacturing date can also be used as a product identifier.

Sometimes, you may need to request information from the manufacturer, and this is when an experienced attorney can help with your case. They have the legal resources that may be necessary to receive this type of information.

Pay Attention to the Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for product liability claims varies by state. In Texas, you have two years from the date of the incident to file a claim. There are very few exceptions to the statute, so it’s best not to wait to file a claim.

Minors may be an exception since the statute may not kick in until their 18th birthday. However, parents and guardians may be able to file a claim on behalf of the minor. To ensure you don’t miss any filing deadlines, regardless of your age, it’s best to consult with a product liability attorney.

You Can Receive Compensation For Your Product Liability Claim

Filing a product liability claim feels overwhelming at times; you've got to dig through tons of details, and proving your case falls entirely on your shoulders. 

To make things a bit easier and give your claim a fighting chance, why not sit down with a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of product liability? They can guide you through the maze and help get your claim on the right track.

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