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Who’s to Blame When a Product Malfunctions?

by Drew Tanner on Oct. 13, 2017

Accident & Injury Products Liability 

Summary: Each and every day, you use hundreds of products. From the time you get up in the morning to the moment you fall asleep at night (and even while you’re sleeping), you’re using products that other people designed, manufactured, and sold to you.

Most of the time, the products we use are perfectly fine. They do the job that they were bought to do, and we are relatively safe and satisfied when we use them.

But every once in a while, a product causes harm, and in many cases, this harm is extreme. Every year, there are thousands of cases in which a purchased product malfunctioned or was already defective and caused serious injury to the user or those nearby.

If this has happened to you, your initial thought may be that you improperly used the product or that it was a one-time fluke that is no one’s fault. This should not be your mentality. If you did use the product irresponsibly, that’s another story. But most law-abiding citizens purchase products that will do a specific task for them, and they will use them as they were intended to be used.

Determining Who Is at the Root of a Product Malfunction

In any product liability case, the first thing that you need to do is determine who was at fault for the product malfunction. It is also important to remember that sometimes, multiple parties are at fault or liable. When it comes to making a personal injury claim of this nature, you would be naming multiple defendants.

Again, this process is complicated, which is why it’s important to speak with a lawyer before you take any initial steps. Product liability lawyers know exactly what to look for when it comes to product liability and product malfunctions. Often, this becomes a mystery-like situation in which you need to gather evidence, follow clues, and do extensive research. Most people who have recently been through a serious personal injury or death in the family because of a product that malfunctioned, are not prepared to do all of this legwork. This is, first of all, where a highly skilled and qualified attorney will come in.

Scouring the Chain of Distribution

Determining who is to blame when a product malfunctions generally starts with an examination of the chain of distribution. Every product has a chain of distribution that goes all the way back to the individual or party who designed the product.

As you begin your research into who could have caused the product malfunction, you’ll want to go all the way back to the beginning and follow the path that your product took from its naissance as an idea in someone’s head to getting into your hands. You’ll start first with the manufacturer, then move on the distributors, wholesalers, and retailers.

The Manufacturer

The manufacturer is first in line when it comes to the chain of distribution. Who the manufacturer is can vary greatly. You’ll want to ask several questions: Was the product purchased from a large brand name company, or did you purchase it from someone working out of their home? Is the product that malfunctioned part of a bigger piece of equipment, or does it stand alone?

This latter question often comes into play with auto parts. For example, if your brand new tire blew out on the highway while you were driving, causing you to swerve and have a serious accident, this is not necessarily the car manufacturer’s fault. On the other hand, it could be the fault of the company that manufactured the tires, or it could have something to do with the garage mechanic who installed your new tires.

The Distributors, Wholesalers, and Retailers

Next, you’ll need to look at the distributors, wholesalers, and retailers in the chain of distribution. These are essentially the middlemen who bought and resold your product as it moved closer to you, the consumer.

In many cases, there are no middlemen or there are only one or two. In other cases, there are numerous parties that your product will have passed into the hands of. It is possible that each of these businesses may inherit liability if a defective product went through them and they did not check or notice.

And finally, in many cases, the retailer is liable for selling your product when it was defective. There are laws in place that require retailers to know what they are selling, and if they are caught selling defective products, this is essentially an act of negligence on their part — even if they didn’t create the error.

Things to Remember

What’s important to remember is that, as you go through the chain of distribution and look for who could be liable for your product malfunctioning, you’re not choosingwho to blame. To the contrary, you are looking for parties who were definitely negligent when it came to doing their job. Companies and businesses who make money off of the creation or sale of products are held to certain quality standards and when these standards aren’t met, problems can occur.

When they do not meet these quality standards and someone gets hurt, they are liable by law. In other words, they were negligent in the work that they did, and it caused you to be injured. This caused you to lose wages and money, possibly lose your job, and have mounting medical bills. An accident like this could change your life forever. You deserve compensation.

Speak With a Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Just as was mentioned above, the only way to acquire full compensation for the injuries that you sustained because of a defective product is to speak with a lawyer.

Lawyers who work specifically in product liability claims know exactly how to navigate the complicated process of finding out who was to blame. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for personal injury lawyers to work on a contingency basis. This means that you can approach a lawyer with the main story of your case, explain your circumstances, and they may choose to be your lawyer on contingency: if you win your claim in court, you will receive compensation and give them due payment, but if you lose, you don’t have to pay their legal fees.

To learn more about your options when it comes to product malfunctions, personal injury, and filing a product liability claim, speak with a qualified lawyer in your area today. Remember that there are also statutes of limitations when it comes to these types of cases, so it’s wise to act quickly.

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