Evidence is the key to any legal case. When a defective or otherwise dangerous product injures you or your loved one, there are some simple steps you should take to make sure the most important evidence is preserved.
There is a strong temptation to get rid of a product that causes an injury immediately. It is just human nature to want to prevent someone else from getting hurt using the same product, especially if your child has been injured. However, a better course of action is to put the product somewhere safe so it can be examined by a lawyer and an engineer for design defects and other safety issues if you decide to pursue legal action.
Put the product out of harm’s way, such as in your garage or garden shed. Keep it out of the weather and try to make sure it stays in the same condition it was in at the time of the accident. Throwing a product away after an accident may be viewed by the defendants or the court as intentional or negligent destruction of evidence.
If first responders such as police, fire department, or EMTs ask to take the product, it is okay to politely refuse and to tell them you will retain the product and make it available for them to examine upon request.
If possible, take a complete set of photographs of the product and the area where the accident happened. The camera on your phone is perfectly fine for this job.
The configuration of the product, as well as the immediate surrounding area, can often contain extremely valuable evidence of how and why the accident happened. Take pictures of the room or area where the accident happened so that it will be easier to recreate the events after memories fade. Try to make sure the pictures capture enough space and perspective to make them useful for gauging distances, etc.
Lawyers investigating accidents involving household products will want to take possession of the product. It's critical that you and the lawyer establish a chain of custody, so the accident-causing product can be reliably identified at a later date. This can be done as simply as attaching an identifying sticker to the product. But sometimes more involved work is needed to establish and maintain a chain of custody.
Establishing a chain of custody is vitally important, and one of the reasons you should only consult with a lawyer who has significant experience in this type of case. You cannot allow a rookie mistake to weaken your case.
If you take these simple steps to preserve evidence and promptly contact a lawyer who knows his or her way around a product liability case, you will improve your chances of achieving a positive outcome if you pursue legal action against the manufacturer. Contact the defective products injury lawyers at White and Williams LLP today for a free initial consultation.
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