Were you or a loved one injured by a defective product? You may be able to sue the manufacturer — or even others — for compensation. But how might they try to counter your claims? Here's what you need to know about some of the most common defenses you can expect.
1. Assumption of Risk
Did you accept a certain level of risk by choosing to use a product? In essence, this argument is that you knew what you were doing and what you were getting into. Therefore, the maker isn't liable for the results.
For instance, a trampoline is generally considered a product with some inherent risk. There are warning labels for this reason. The maker of a trampoline might argue to the jury that you accepted the standard level of risk involved in buying and using theirs.
2. Misuse of Product
What is the expected use of the product, and were you using it outside the norm? Perhaps you were using that trampoline to do high-impact professional maneuvers for which it was not designed. In this case, the maker may argue that you were injured not due to the normal use of the product but to your misuse of it.
3. Statute of Limitations
Statutes of limitations are deadlines for an injured party to bring a lawsuit. Personal injury statutes of limitations are chosen and published by each state. Wisconsin residents have 3 years from the injury date to file a lawsuit, for instance, while North Carolinians have 6 years from the date of purchase.
The manufacturer is aware of these deadlines and will try to have a lawsuit thrown out if it's too late. There are exceptions to statutes of limitations, but the manufacturer will do its best to counter that your case doesn't qualify for one.
4. Comparative Negligence
Shifting the blame is a common defense to personal injury suits. In a defective product case, the defendant may claim that you contributed in some way to your own injury.
Perhaps you removed a safety feature of the trampoline or didn't follow the instructions to the letter. The company is likely to attempt to convince the jury that you should be held at least a little liable for your own harm. This doesn't necessarily get them out of liability, but it does reduce damages awards in most states.
Where Can You Learn More?
Get help countering these or other defenses that a manufacturer may bring up if you go to trial. Meet with a personal injury attorney in your state for more info.