Product liability refers to the manufacturer, company or seller being held liable for the distribution of a defective product into the hands of a consumer. Products containing inherent defects can cause harm to the consumer of the product and hence become the subject of the product liability claim. The manufacturer must pay compensation for any injury caused by the defective product, per product liability law.
A product liability claim can be based on negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty of fitness depending on the jurisdiction within which the claim is based. While products are considered as tangible personal property, product liability has stretched that definition to include intangibles (gas), naturals (pets), real estate (house), and writings (navigational charts).
Liability for a defective product could rest with any party in the product’s chain of distribution, including:
● The product manufacturer
● A party that assembles or installs the product
● A manufacturer of component parts
● The wholesaler
● The retailer that sold the product to the consumer
No matter which jurisdiction, the plaintiff must prove that the product is defective. If you or someone you love has been injured or suffered other damages because of a product you used, you may have a defective product liability claim. Understanding the three main categories will help determine whether you have a valid claim. The claims typically fall into:
Defectively Manufactured Products
This is the most common and obvious type of product liability claim. It is appropriate to file this claim when an injury is caused due to a problem that arose from how the product was manufactured. The product that caused the injury had a flaw because of some error in its making, such as a glitch at the factory where it was made, therefore, making the product that caused the injury different from all the other ones in the market.
Examples of a manufacturing defect are:
● A bicycle with a cracked frame
● A defective batch of cough syrup containing a harmful substance
● A car manufactured with defective tires
To prove such a case, the injury must have been caused by the manufacturing defect. So if you’ve been the victim of an accident as a result of a tire blowout or tire tread separation, you would only have a claim if you could prove that the defective tires – not negligence – caused your accident.
Defectively Designed Products
In this category of product liability, a product’s design is inherently hazardous or defective. A defective design claim does not arise from an error or mistake in the manufacturing process, instead involves the claim that an entire range of products is characteristically dangerous, irrespective of the fact that the injury-causing product was made perfectly according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Examples of design defects are:
● A range of sunglasses that fail to protect the eyes from ultraviolet rays
● Airbags that do not provide adequate protection and are not thick enough to absorb the impact
of a collision
● A line of electric shavers that can electrocute the user when turned on high
In all these cases, the injury must be caused as a result of a defect in the design. If you are involved in an accident and you sustained severe injuries, you would only have a claim if you can show that you sustained the injuries due to the lack of thickness in the airbags to absorb the impact.
Failure to Provide Adequate Warnings or Instructions
If someone sustains an injury by a product, and the product did not come with adequate or strong enough warnings or instructions regarding how to use it with precaution, they may have a product liability claim for failure to warn. This type of claim arises when a product is hazardous in a way that is not obvious to the consumer, or the consumer has to exercise extra caution while using the product and it is not mentioned in the instructions.
Examples of failure-to-warn claims include:
● An energy drink that does not include on its label a warning that it might cause harmful side
effects when taken in combination with other drinks such as alcohol
● An electric oven that is packaged without adequate warning that its upper surface gets hot while in use
● A highly concentrated quick glue that is sold without sufficient instructions for safe handling and use
Again, in all these cases, the injury must result from failure-to-warn or properly instruct. If you sustained a burn injury as result of the oven, you would have a failure-to-warn claim if you were burned by touching the top surface of the oven.
The manufacturer or the defense in a product liability case often raise the fact that the plaintiff has not sufficiently identified with the supplier of the product that allegedly caused them harm. Another defense that the company might raise is that the plaintiff considerably altered the product after it left the manufacturer’s control, and this resulted in the plaintiff’s injury. Product liability claims are quite complicated, and establishing legal fault will often require the help and testimonies of experts. In addition, each state has its own set of laws and statute of limitations before which a claim can be filed. If you or someone you love has been the unfortunate victim of a defective product, connect with an experienced lawyer to secure compensation for your loss. A competent attorney can thoroughly evaluate your case and fight to protect your rights.
Types of Defective Product Liability Claims
Defective products are the cause of thousands of injuries every year in the U.S. These claims typically fall into three main categories.
Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws and.how they may affect a case. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.