29 Oct, 2022

How to Find the Right Product Liability Attorney in Bloomington

Author Todd A. Strong

Getting a product liability attorney may help you receive compensation for past and future pain and suffering, permanent injury, physical impairment, medical expenses, loss of earnings, loss of ordinary life, and mental anguish, among other things.

Trying to handle a case yourself is daunting in the best of situations. For one thing, product litigation liability can take place in state court, federal court, in multiple districts, or via class action lawsuits. The deadlines, rules, and procedures litigants must be aware of are vast. A product liability lawyer has the experience to navigate these processes and try cases.

Attorney meeting client in office
Attorney meeting client in office

Do You Need to Hire a Product Liability Attorney in Bloomington?

If you were injured by a defective product, a personal injury lawyer can help you figure out whether you have a product liability case. Meet with several lawyers to determine if you need to hire a product liability attorney or find another type of resolution to your situation. Begin meetings as soon as possible because the two-year statute of limitations for personal injury could be an issue. Lawyers need time to gather and review documents, have their experts do so, and assess the worthiness of a case.

Getting a product liability attorney may help you receive compensation for past and future pain and suffering, permanent injury, physical impairment, medical expenses, loss of earnings, loss of ordinary life, and mental anguish, among other things.

Trying to handle a case yourself is daunting in the best of situations. For one thing, product litigation liability can take place in state court, federal court, in multiple districts, or via class action lawsuits. The deadlines, rules, and procedures litigants must be aware of are vast. A product liability lawyer has the experience to navigate these processes and try cases.

To win your case, you will need to prove that a defect existed and that the defect caused your injuries. This generally requires a complicated web of investigations, consultations, and documentation.

Then there is contending with the defendants’ potential arguments. Many defendants say that the products are safe and that plaintiffs misused them, and that misuse is what caused the harm. You typically have only one chance to make your case and recover compensation. The right product liability attorney in Bloomington will help you make the best of it.

Finding the Right Personal Injury Attorney in Bloomington

When consulting with a personal injury attorney in Bloomington, be sure to assess factors such as lawyers' communication ability, negotiation skills, experience, legal specialization, and educational background. Ask them questions, and get information from past clients on their satisfaction with the lawyer. Research publicly available information about the lawyers’ settlements and trial wins.

Communication Ability

Good lawyer-client communication is essential. You, as the client, must feel comfortable reaching out to your lawyer or his or her designated person with questions and concerns. The reverse holds, too. Lawyers have the responsibility to keep you looped in with case updates and details on what is occurring behind the scenes. They have the obligation to communicate with you about case dynamics and factors affecting your case outcome.

Look for communication ability when you talk with lawyers themselves and past clients, and when you read reviews. It is a possible red flag if a client says something like, “He always said he was too busy to talk to me, but I did get that settlement, so no complaints.” Ask whether the lawyer had the client speak with a designated staffer instead, or how communication was handled.

Negotiation Skills

Ask the product liability attorneys in Bloomington that you’re considering about their negotiation skills, how they’ve negotiated settlements in the past, and how they anticipate your case negotiations going. The reality is that many product liability cases hinge on the attorneys’ negotiation know-how.

Compensation (amount of compensation) typically comes down to your attorney’s skill in negotiating on your behalf. Quite a few cases settle out of court rather than go to trial, which means companies or defendants negotiate settlement offers with victims.

Defendants usually start with a lowball offer. Your attorney must be able to recognize this tactic, counter the offer with a higher number, and provide documentation relating to why the higher number is fair, and the lower number is not.

To negotiate effectively, attorneys must know about all the areas of compensation you could be eligible for, how to prove them, and how to present the cases for each. With product liability personal injuries, medical expenses missed income, loss of normal life and other expenses tend to add up fast. However, not all lawyers stridently pursue the claims.

Experience

Investigate how many years a product liability attorney in Bloomington has practiced and how many years of expertise he or she has in particular fields. Also, look into how many lawsuits the lawyer has won and what type of lawsuits they were. Find out about the specific products involved and whether the cases were failure to warn (marketing defects), defective design, manufacturing defects, breach of warranty, or something else.

Legal Specialization

Product liability falls under the personal injury area of practice. Not all personal injury lawyers are equally qualified to handle a complicated product liability case, however. Look for an attorney with experience in your product category and type of claim.

Educational Background

Educational background is not at the top of the list when considering product liability attorneys, but many plaintiffs research their attorneys’ schools and achievements. Educational background is more relevant more recently a product liability attorney in Bloomington finished school.

Sometimes, what your prospective attorneys studied in school links to their area of specialization. At a minimum, many lawyers’ websites list where they got their bachelor's and J.D. degrees, and their professional associations and memberships. You also want to ask about ongoing education. How have the lawyers stayed on top of trends and changes in product liability?

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Product Liability Attorney in Bloomington

Product liability cases fall into different categories of products such as medical devices, drugs, swimming pools, bounce houses, lawnmowers, sprinklers, food, and medical devices. The categories have areas of overlap but do require different approaches.

For instance, medical device and prescription drug litigation tend to involve collaboration with other attorneys and class action lawsuits or multidistrict lawsuits. Your case could become one of hundreds or thousands ushered into one overarching mechanism.

In other words, it is important that your Bloomington personal injury lawyers have experience in the specific product category affecting you. An attorney who has primarily handled swimming pool, lawnmower, and sprinkler lawsuits might not have the expertise to handle a prescription drug lawsuit with aplomb. Asking your prospective attorneys about their experience in specific product categories is a must. Here are essential questions to ask.

What Experience Do You Have With the Product Type and Specific Product?

Ask about the lawyer’s experience with the specific product too, not just the type of product. As an example, the list of problematic medical devices is long. It includes breast implants, insulin pumps, blood pressure and pulse monitoring platforms, pacemakers, spinal fusion stimulators, defibrillators, and so on. A medical device product liability lawyer could be just the person you need, but experience with your specific product (including product type and brand and model) is ideal. Also, discuss whether the cases were failure to warn, defective design, or something else, and how that might fit with the particulars of your situation.

Weigh the experience of the product liability attorney in Bloomington against other factors such as the level of comfort you feel with the person and whether his or her style resonates with you. Researching, consulting, and joining cases can help lawyers make up for lack of specific knowledge and get up to speed.

Who Could the Defendants in My Case Be?

The defendants could be the manufacturer, distributor, and/or seller. Ask your lawyers to explain the case for each being a potential defendant.

What Damages Could Be Recoverable in My Case?

The damages could be economic, non-economic, and punitive. Common economic damages include loss of income and medical expenses, while common non-economic damages include disabilities, physical disfigurement, mental anguish, and pain and suffering.

Punitive damages are less common. They involve cases of especially bad reckless or intentional behavior. These damages are supposed to motivate the defendants and other companies from similar behavior in the future.

Of course, each lawsuit is different. Ask your prospective product liability attorney in Bloomington about the damages available to you and which could be most relevant and helpful.

What Legally Makes a Product Defective?

Ask what makes a product defective in Illinois, on the federal level, and elsewhere since your case could be tried in one or multiple places. Each state has different laws about product liability lawsuits, although they typically involve the manufacturer, distributor or seller. A product tends to be legally defective if it is unsafe for its use as intended or uses someone reasonably could foresee.

How Are Design Defects and Manufacturing Defects Different?

Questions such as this one check lawyers’ knowledge of product liability and give you insight into their perspectives and possible handling of your case. The short answer to the question goes like this: Design defects are when manufacturers design unreasonably dangerous products.

In both cases, the defects can include incorrect bolts or fasteners, improperly made material or plastic, wrongly installed or wired electrical circuits, or incorrectly installed parts. Children's choking hazards, helmets that cannot withstand relatively small impacts, chairs that collapse easily, and cars that turn over under normal driving conditions are examples.

Manufacturing defects occur in the manufacturing process when something happens to make the product unreasonably dangerous. A regular, rigorous inspection should catch defective products before they go on the market, but many slip through the cracks. It can stem from human error, for example, if the product design is fine but the person who assembled the product lacked proper training or experience and thus put together a flawed, defective product.

If a product defect would exist if the product was put together as designed, then you're looking at a manufacturing defect. Similar product liability questions include: What is a breach of warranty? What does the implied warranty mean? What is failure to warn?

Why Are You the Right Lawyer to Handle This Case? (Or Why Is Your Firm the Right One to Handle This Case?)

Lawyers' answers could cite their strong record of success, expertise in certain areas, negotiation, and litigation skills, resources to investigate and try the case, and their personalized client services.

What Is the Cost to Me?

Expect the answer to be nothing, even if your case does not win, except for necessary expenses such as the cost of getting medical records or itemized bills. These are often free, but may cost some money if the records run into thousands of pages.

Most personal injury product liability lawsuits are on a contingency basis. Lawyers bypass hourly rates, instead getting a percentage of the money recovered in a lawsuit. Firms may bill you for expenses for you to pay later after the conclusion of the case. These expenses you could pay from the settlement or out of pocket if you do not recover compensation.

How Do You Communicate With Clients About Cases?

This question gives you an idea of what to expect about being kept in the loop. How frequent will it be, and who would your point person at the firm be? Considering these factors and others may help you identify the right product liability attorney in Bloomington for you and your needs.

About The Author

Photo of Todd A. Strong
Illinois workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer Todd A. Strong is the founder of Strong Law Offices in Peoria, Illinois. Todd brings considerable legal knowledge, experience, and skill to the table to ensure injured victims throughout the state are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.