Oftentimes when people get into accidents that involve defective products, they are injured and shocked and delay filing a case. While it is certainly understandable that certain personal injuries can cause a filing delay, one just needs to remember that the company one plans to sue is already one, if not two, steps ahead.
A crucial factor in a product liability case is the preservation of evidence. To secure the evidence in this type of matter, we’ve established the below checklist.
- If the malfunctioning product is not already owned by the injured party, offer to purchase it. (The cost of a wrecked Jeep is relatively inexpensive compared to a successful product liability case.)
- Once one has gained ownership of the defective product, it should be locked in a secure facility that the plaintiff or her attorney controls. (Many major manufacturers have the newspapers carefully scanned and whenever possible secure evidence to deny plaintiff ability to pursue claims.)
- If evidence can not be bought, at minimum, put everyone on notice, including owners, tow trucks, police impounds and the like that they must take important steps to preserve the evidence and that failure to do so will subject them to being sued.
- If the evidence is in possession by a third party or anticipated defendant, immediately file for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to avoid alterations or destructive testing.
Special handling: Defective paper product (i.e. melted hot beverage paper cup)
Plastic destroys evidence. Also avoid light, heat and moisture. Store the defective paper product in a paper bag. Maintain in a cool, low light secure location with steady temperature and relative humidity.
The following investigative steps should then be taken:
A. Obtain a complete product history..
- date of the original sale
- identity of the dealer, distributor, subsequent purchasers, lessees and users.
- locate the instruction booklet, assembly booklet, warranties and all other written material that accompanied the new product at the time of the original sale and distribution.
- determine whether the article was modified or otherwise changed after it left the possession of the manufacturer and distributor and, if so, the identity of the persons or entities which made the modification and the dates involved.
B. Obtain basic background details.
- complete description of the article, the manufacturer, distributor and sources of all component parts and
- obtain all written materials pertaining to the product; advertising brochures, instruction booklets, technical data, parts manuals, repair manuals, operating manuals, catalogs, technical and lay advertisements, blueprints and diagrams of the article and component parts.
BNI has conducted numerous product liability cases and is experienced in identifying and locating the information on a defective product necessary to result in a successful product liability case.
I look forward to any comments you may have or and questions I can answer for you.
Lina M. Maini
Editor, The Beacon Bulletin
CEO, Beacon Network Investigations, Inc.
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