How To Identify Parties Responsible For Your Product Liability Claim
In a product liability claim, it's necessary to name all the respondents to maximize your settlement. Indeed, naming the wrong respondent will result in your case getting thrown out. Here are some of the measures to take ensure you name the correct parties, and name all of them:
Identify the Parties in the Chain of Distribution
The first thing is to identify all the parties in the chain of distribution; from the designers to the retailer who sold you the defective item. Any or all of these people may be liable for your injuries. For a typical product, the chain of distribution includes these parties:
- The product designer
- Manufacturer of the product
- Manufacturer of individual components
- Product assembler
Identify the Type of Defect
Next, identify the type of defect that caused your injury. This is because some of the parties may not be responsible for the defect, and by extension, your injuries. Consider an example where a food manufacturer produces a safe product. Assume that, when the food product reaches the retailer, it accidentally gets laced with a poisonous substance that ends up harming you. In this case, it is the retailer's negligence that has caused you injury; other parties may not be liable.
Check If Strict Liability Applies
Identifying the defect only helps if the case isn't governed by strict liability laws. In strict liability, which is common with defective product cases, you don't have to prove exactly how you got injured or whose negligence led to your injury. All you have to prove is that the product was defective, the defect made the product unreasonably dangerous, and the defect caused your injury. In this case, anybody who was involved in the manufacture and sale of the defective product is liable for the injury it causes. It pays to confer with an attorney to help you determine if strict liability covers your case.
If another party has purchased the original manufacturer of the defective product, then you may present your claim against the manufacturer's successor. This also applies if the original company has merged, changed its name or reorganized itself; the new entity inherits the liability of its predecessor. If this is the situation with your injury, then you should also name the successors as respondents in your claim.
As you can see, a product liability case is likely to have many respondents. Consult a personal injury lawyer to help you identify them all before you send a demand letter to one or more persons.