Product liability cases are some of the complex matters which arise in the realm of personal injury law. Such cases often involve multiple defendants and can raise multiple theories of liability. One of the most hotly contested issues in any product liability case is proving that the defendants are, in fact, at fault. This article will discuss what must be proven in order to establish the fault of a defendant or defendants. It will also discuss the process of proving fault.
Establishing Fault and Recovering Damages in a Product Liability Case
In order to recover damages in a product liability case the victim must be able to show that the product was defectively designed, manufactured, or marketed. It must also be shown that the defect led to an injury. If each of these requirements are met then a victim may be able to recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, as well as pain and suffering. In extreme cases the harmed individual may even be able to recover punitive damages. In order to show that the design, manufacture, or marketing of a product was defective, the victim must establish that using the product as it was intended to be used created a dangerous condition or that the marketing inferred that the product could be used in a way which led to a dangerous condition.
Proving That a Product Was Defectively Designed, Manufactured, or Marketed
Preserving Evidence Immediately After the Injury Occurs
If an accident occurs involving a product, it is important that you maintain as much evidence as possible. This includes keeping the defective item and preserving it. It also includes taking as many photographs as possible of the injury, the area in which the incident occurred, and of the item itself. It is also suggested that you immediately make notes of what happened while the incident is fresh in your mind. If possible, making a video recording will be helpful as it can help to provide more context to what has happened. Additionally, it will be important to seek immediate care in order to help establish that your injuries were, in fact, caused by the product defect.
If litigation becomes necessary, then the discovery process will be an important part of establishing liability. Discovery is the process by which information is gained from the other side in a lawsuit and it provides several tools for obtaining such information. These tools include Interrogatories, which are written questions to which the defendant(s) must provide written responses. Other tools include Requests for Production, which allow for the acquisition of documents, records, and tangible items. Additionally, depositions may be used to obtain sworn testimony from parties as well as non-party witnesses. The types of discovery tools utilized, and the nature of the information requested, will always depend on the specifics of the case.
Proving that a product was defectively designed, manufactured, or marketed often involves analyzing facts that require specialized knowledge, training, or skill. These facts may relate to industry standards for certain types of manufacturing as well as steps that are typically taken or should be taken, during the design process. Also, understanding industry practices and standards when it comes to how a product is marketed can be crucial. Florida’s rules of evidence do not permit lay witnesses to testify in regard to such issues. In order to testify on these types of topics, a witness must be accepted as an expert by the Court.
Once the Court deems a witness to be an expert, then they will be permitted to testify in front of the jury. The expert retained by your attorney will offer testimony pertaining to why the product should be considered defective. The defense will have the opportunity to present evidence from its own expert witnesses. The amount of weight, if any, to be given to each expert’s testimony will be determined by the jury.
The Role of the Jury
If the matter proceeds to trial then the jury will be the final decider as to whether the defendants should be considered liable. The jurors will also decide the amount of damages to be awarded as well as whether any award should be reduced due to comparative fault. It is important to remember that jurors are everyday citizens who do not normally spend their time considering product liability-related issues. It is, therefore, important that you retain an attorney who can present your case to the jurors in a clear, concise, and straightforward fashion. If your counsel fails to present the case in this way, then important points may be lost on the jurors.
Selecting the Right Attorney to Prove Your Case
Establishing fault and damages in a product liability case can be both time-consuming and expensive. Given that these types of matters often involve multiple defendants and large amounts of documentation, the discovery process could very well take years. Furthermore, the costs of depositions and other discovery-related activities can quickly become high. Finally, expert witnesses typically charge substantial fees. All of these costs are paid upfront by your attorney, and counsel will not be reimbursed until your case settles or until a verdict is reached at trial.
When you are selecting an attorney to handle your case, it is very important that you retain a firm with the resources necessary to see your matter through to completion. Retaining counsel without the necessary resources can result in your lawyer having to withdraw while the litigation is pending. This could greatly hurt your case.
It is important that you speak with a lawyer as soon as possible if you or a family member have been harmed by a defective product.