How do I File a Product Liability Claim?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

A lawyer's help is usually critical to the success of a product liability claim. You can sue a company pro se, which means without legal representation, but the procedures for these types of lawsuits can be complex, and your chances of success may be diminished. Regardless of whether you choose to file pro se or with a lawyer, you will need to learn the laws for product liability in your jurisdiction and provide documentation of the injuries caused by a defective product. Your right to sue isn't usually limited to products that have manufacturing defects, however. You can also sue for injuries sustained because of design defects or the lack of safety warnings on a product label.

Someone who becomes sick from chemicals found in bottled water can file a product liability suit.
Someone who becomes sick from chemicals found in bottled water can file a product liability suit.

Usually, the first step in filing a product liability case is learning your jurisdiction's laws for these types of cases. In most places, you will have to demonstrate that you were injured in some way and prove that a defective product caused your injuries. In most places, you can only win a product liability claim if the manufacturer or seller had a duty to provide a safe product. Fortunately, this is a given in most places.

When filing a product liability claim, you or your lawyer may decide to pursue one of three different types of product liability cases. One type is a negligence case in which you must prove that the manufacturer or seller of the product that injured you acted negligently. For example, you may prove that the company you are suing knew about the defect but failed to recall the product or warn consumers. If, on the other hand, you believe the product was unreasonably dangerous, you may pursue a strict product liability case. You may have a breach of warranty case, however, if the manufacturer provided a warranty for a product, the product's defects made it fall short of the warranty, and you were injured because of the defects.

To file a product liability claim and have the best chance of winning, you will usually have to provide good documentation. If possible, you should save your receipt for purchasing the product, any unused portion of it, and its packaging. You will also need documentation from a doctor to prove your case. The documentation should report the extent of your injuries and the treatments used for them. It should also include information about the manner in which you received the injuries.

If you have chosen to file a product liability claim with the help of an attorney, the attorney will use your documentation to create and file the documents necessary for initiating a lawsuit. If you have decided to proceed pro se, you will have to determine the appropriate court for filing and then prepare the filing documents yourself. Many court systems provide fill-in-the-blank forms or online self-help information you can use for filing lawsuits on your own.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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