Johnson Becker Tells How to Prepare for Product Liability Suits

Most of us are familiar with the stories of individuals who are injured due to defective products, items that prove shoddy in their design or their manufacture and thus yield dangerous consequences; according to the law firm Johnson Becker, however, this hardly means that all product liability cases are slam dunks. Sometimes well-intentioned lawyers mount product liability cases that result in justice being served on behalf of their clients. In many other cases, though, these suits go nowhere.

But what is the difference between a successful product liability case and one that falls flat? According to the attorneys at Johnson Becker, the answer often lies in preparation. To win the cases, the legal team needs to be fully prepared with documentation and evidence showing that the product in question really is faulty and that the consequences of that faultiness really are grim.

Of course, the product manufacturer is unlikely to provide any real help with the investigation. As such, it falls to the lawyers to come up with the documents and evidence they need. The team from Johnson Becker shares some examples and tips in the paragraphs that follow.

The first priority—the thing on which the cases often hinges—is preservation of the product itself. In many cases, the client will still have possession of the product in question. In these cases, obtaining and preserving the product is essential. According to Johnson Becker, there may be cases in which preserving the actual product is hard; in these cases, coordinating an inspection of the product by a credible expert may suffice.

When the actual product that caused the injury is unavailable, the next step is to seek an exemplar product. This essentially means purchasing the exact same product, a match of the one that caused the injury. When purchasing an exemplar product, however, it is vital to do so as quickly as possible. A failure to purchase the product immediately may result in the product line being changed and the exact product needed being altered or discontinued.

The attorneys at Johnson Becker recommend that lawyers take every precaution to confirm the exact product involved in the incident. This means carefully documenting the serial number and the model number of the product. Clients may be able to furnish this information; if not, the expert who inspects the product surely can. Taking some photographs and displaying these numbers is usually advisable.

Proving that the client purchased the product in question is important. Ideally, he or she will still have an invoice or receipt. In these instances, preserving this documentation is vital.

And of course, if the client purchased the product in question, there is a chance that he or she has retained the operator, owner, or user manual, as supplied by the product manufacturer. This is critical documentation to prepare. If the client did not retain these documents, it is sometimes possible to do an online search, or visit the manufacturer’s website, and download a copy of the manual. If all else fails, it is usually possible to order a manual directly from the manufacturer.

In addition to manuals, many products also come with warnings. Warning labels and warning instructions are very much relevant to product liability cases. Attorneys are advised to seek out these warnings, or at the very least to procure photographs of them.

Manufacturer marketing materials can also prove handy in a court of law, Johnson Becker states. Brochures and other marketing documents can be procured from the manufacturer website or—in some cases—from the retail location where the product was purchased. Again, if all else fails, online searches can also yield this information.