After making a purchase at a retail store, you arrive home excited to use your new item only to sustain injury because it was defective. Sadly, your story is not unique. Recently, a woman claimed to suffer from severe burns after a product she used exploded, causing the hot contents to spew over her face, neck, and chest. If you were injured because of a defective product, the question is: Who will be legally responsible for your medical bills, time off from work, and pain and suffering?
Fortunately, there are established product liability laws. Although the manufacturing company might be legally liable, there is a good chance that the retail store where you bought the product would share in that responsibility. However, if you try to file a claim with the store’s insurance company, be prepared for a huge battle or a lowballed settlement offer. More than likely, the store will claim it was unaware that the product was defective and, therefore, you need to go after the manufacturer. In reality, that may not be true.
As this is a challenging case, it is essential that you hire a reputable personal injury attorney. After discussing the details with you, an investigation will begin to determine just how much the store knew and whether it should be partially or solely liable. In addition, your attorney will work to establish that you used the product according to the instructions provided and that your injury was directly linked to the product
Your attorney will also gather all of your medical bills, proof of time off from your employer in relation to your injury, expenses for trauma counseling, and other documents to make your case stronger. Using various tactics, your attorney will try to settle with the insurance company, although a lawsuit may be inevitable. In the event of a lawsuit, your attorney will create a list of defendants, whether the retail store, manufacturer, and/or distributor.
In certain jurisdictions, if a product was recalled or there is a history of consumer complaints about the same item but the store failed to pull it, it could be proven that the store has legal liability. Your attorney may base this on “mode of operation” or “recurring condition,” as opposed to the more traditional requirement of notice to consumers.
The “mode of operation” can show that the store was negligent. Strong evidence, such as repeated customer complaints, would show major concerns regarding the store’s mode of business operation. In other words, the store knew there was a risk for anyone who purchased the same product as you but the appropriate standard of care was ignored in how it ran the business.
With a “recurring condition,” your attorney may be able to prove that the store had not taken all necessary precautions to keep customers safe. By selling the product in question to customers after receiving multiple complaints, the store ignored the knowledge it had or failed to take appropriate action.
Due to complexities, it is imperative that you hire a qualified attorney. Specifically, you want an attorney who offers years of experience and expertise dealing with retail stores and their role in protecting consumers against any risk of defective products.