Steps to Take When Your Product Causes Injury to a Consumer
It is always shocking when customers are hurt by a product you sold. However, there is no need to panic. You should start preparing your answers to a few questions before meeting your lawyer, because she would want to know the entire story to formulate a comprehensive litigation strategy that would get you out of this mess.
Is this the first occurrence of litigation with this product?
If there have been past cases with this same product where customers have filed for personal injury, then gather all the information and case files regarding that case to present to you lawyer. It doesn’t matter if the past case(s) was recent or long ago. Facts of that case can be used against you in the current case, hence your lawyer must know.
Do you have any information about the customer who got injured?
Is it an old customer or new? Does this customer have a reason to harm your company with a fake personal injury claim? An investigation on the customer himself would be good for evidence-building purposes, as your lawyer may be able to prove that the customer is filing a fake claim.
The time it has been since the product went on the market
If the product has been in the market for a long period of time, then it could be an issue with the manufacturing or with the usage of the product. If it’s a manufacturing issue, then the company takes the blame.
But if it’s a usage issue, then the customer is to blame because he did not use the product as intended. If the product has been in the market for a short time, that could mean a problem with the design, and more cases of injury could be expected.
Did the customer use your product or a similar one?
Sometimes customers use a product that looks like yours but is a counterfeit. Any injury caused by counterfeit product is not your company’s fault, even if that product bears your company’s logo and name.
Meeting the Lawyer
Your lawyer is in the best position to know whether litigation is necessary or not with a certain case. To make her job easy, it is recommended you preserve the records that relate to the case, such as the initial contract, the marketing of the product including all promotional material, the warning displayed on the products and any changes made to them, to name a few.
Additionally, any record you have of the suppliers of components that went into product, may also come in handy.
Does Your Company Have an Insurance Policy?
Insurance policy is meant to safeguard the company against claims of personal injury. However, make sure to check your policy and familiarize yourself with the disclosure requirements.
Most insurance policies require companies to declare potential claims to insurance companies as soon as they become probable, and not wait for the actual claim to occur before filing for reimbursement. Failing to make such disclosures at the right time can nullify the insurance policy in this case, which mean you’d have to pay all the damages out of pocket.
Let Your Employees Know
Whenever a company undergoes legal scrutiny such as a personal injury claim made by a customer, reporters want the dirt and employees are the perfect source for leaks. Be responsible and warn your employees to not interact with any reporters regarding company matters.
It is not necessary that your employees know what the current litigation is about, and you would do both yourself and them a huge favour by keeping facts of the case as contained as possible.
You can show empathy to the grieved party and tell them you are investigating the matter. But should try to delegate the responsibility. You need to gather as much information about the case and fight it till it becomes clear that it was, in fact, the fault of your own product.
This is important because, most likely, the fault lies in the usage of the product and not the product itself, and this fact alone can save you millions.
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