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Understanding Your Rights - 5 Things to Know about Product Liability Cases

Posted on in Personal Injury

product-liablitiyBy Attorney, Christopher Strohbehn

Selling a product on the open market comes with a great deal of responsibility and disclosure on the part of a manufacturer and / or retailer. As a consumer, you expect the products you purchase to be safe for you and your family. However, sometimes, through faulty testing or unforeseen issues, seemingly safe products can cause unforeseen injuries or even death. Knowing your rights after such an incident is often secondary to recovery, however it is important to understand who is responsible when and if such an event occurs. Here are five things to keep in mind if you or someone you know is injured or otherwise affected by faulty product.

1. Don't lose, throw away, or destroy the defective product! If you have been hurt as a result of a product defect, you should maintain the product in question for inspection, review and evidentiary purposes down the road. You do not want to find yourself in a situation where you are trying to prove your case about a defective product that cannot be produced to a jury.

2. When can a manufacturer be held liable? If an injury occurs as a result of a flaw or defect with a product, the manufacturer or seller of that product can be held responsible for the injury. However, it is important to note that under a new Wisconsin law, innocent sellers or distributors are only liable in limited cases. The new law also states that a seller or distributor is not liable if the product was received from the manufacturer in a sealed container and they did not have the reasonable opportunity to thoroughly test or inspect.

3. Be careful when dealing with an altered product. If you choose to substantially change or modify a product after the initial purchase in a manner that the manufacture could not have foreseen or expected and then sustain an injury, the manufacturer may not be responsible for your injuries. Additionally, if you are hurt while using a product in a manner other than its intended use, the manufacturer is also not accountable for your injuries. For example, if you decide to modify and enhance a tool to give it "More Power" as Tim Allen would often manage to do on his show Home Improvement, and then you unfortunately happen to injure yourself, you are unlikely to succeed in a claim if you "super-charged" your drill, lawn mower or chainsaw.

4. What is crashworthiness? This doctrine, which is also called "second collision liability" states that the manufacture might be held responsible for design defects that are not responsible for the initial accident or collision but are found to cause additional or more severe injuries. For example, if you were injured in a vehicle rollover accident and your injuries were caused or "enhanced" by a design defect or material failure and absent those failures you would have been safe throughout the rollover accident, you may have a claim against that vehicle manufacturer.

5. You can be at fault too... In certain instances even if you were injured by a defective product you may not be able to recover from the manufacturer because you may have contributed to your injuries by your own conduct. For example, if you were using a product in an unsafe or improper manner and you were injured by a defect then your negligence will be compared to the defective product and any other negligent people who had a part in causing your injuries.

Injuries that are the result of product liability can create long term debilitating problems. It is important to discuss your case with a qualified attorney to ensure that you receive the best representation and award for your situation.

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