Product Liability Law
Guide to Defective Products Law
What is Product Liability Law?
Product liability law provides legal recourse for victims of defective products. Individuals who are injured by an item that was improperly designed, manufactured, or packaged can seek compensation under several different theories, all of which fall under this area of the law. Most claimants in product liability cases will attempt to recover under the theory of strict liability. Only where the elements of strict liability are not met will claimants resort to the alternative theories of negligence, breach of warranty, or fraudulent misrepresentation.
Strict liability is the preferred theory for asserting a defective product claim because it does not require a showing of fault. That is, there is no need for the plaintiff to prove that the defendant did anything wrong. All that the plaintiff must establish is that the product that caused his or her injury was defective when it left the hands of the defendant. Once this is established, the burden of proof shifts to the manufacturer or other defendant to attempt to show why it should not be held responsible.
Potential Claimants and Liable Entities
Of course, not everyone hurt by a manufactured item is allowed to bring a strict liability lawsuit to recover damages. In order to bring a claim, it must have been foreseeable that someone in the plaintiff's position could have been hurt by the defective product. Foreseeable victims are not limited to customers who actually purchased the item. Thus, bystanders who happen to be near a product when it malfunctions can bring a claim for their injuries. But people hurt in odd scenarios that the manufacturer never could have anticipated cannot.
In order to bring a claim for strict liability, the plaintiff must also have been making an "anticipated use" of the product. An anticipated use is a broad classification, and it can include activities beyond the intended use of the item. For example, chairs are meant for sitting, yet someone hurt while standing on a defective chair can bring a claim, because it is common knowledge that people occasionally stand on chairs. The same is true of a driver injured by a car that malfunctioned at 80 mph, since car companies should anticipate that drivers might exceed the speed limit.
A typical product liability case based on strict liability will name multiple defendants. Basically, the plaintiff can sue everyone in the chain of distribution from the time the product was conceived until it was purchased by the user who was injured. Liable entities can include design companies, parts manufacturers, assembly plants, marketing firms, suppliers, and retailers. The test is whether the entity is a commercial seller who regularly deals in goods of that type. Accordingly, someone who unknowingly sells a defective product at a garage sale will not be liable.
Establishing that a Product is Defective
The cornerstone of a product liability case is proving the existence of a defect that made the product dangerous. To understand this element, it helps to consider the issue of defectiveness in light of the affirmative duties the law imposes on commercial manufacturers and sellers of products. First, they must design products to be safe. If the plaintiff can show that an alternative design is available and economically feasible, the product responsible for the injury will be said to have a design defect. This type of defect exists even when the product is made as intended.
Sometimes a product is designed to be safe, but the particular item that caused harm to the plaintiff was not made correctly. This is known as a manufacturing defect. These situations involve the "one in a million" product that came off the factory floor in a defective and dangerous condition, without the defendant noticing.
Even if a product is designed and manufactured to be as safe as possible, it may still be inherently dangerous. Dangerous products can be sold, but the purchaser must receive proper instructions and warnings. The manufacturer's failure to satisfy this duty to warn is yet another way a product can be found defective. It is often referred to as a marketing or packaging defect.
Additional Theories of Liability
While strict liability is the first choice of products liability claimants, it is not the only means for obtaining compensation. Entities in the chain of distribution of a defective product can also be held liable for negligence if they acted carelessly and the plaintiff was injured as a result. A product may also be covered by express or implied warranties, the breach of which can form the basis for a lawsuit. There are also instances of manufacturers and sellers intentionally misrepresenting the characteristics of their products. A plaintiff who relied on the defendant's assertion that the product was safe may have a claim for common law fraud.
Choosing a Products Liability Attorney
Litigating a product liability case requires not only the ability to make sense of complex technical data, but also the skill to explain a product's defect to the jury in common sense terms. If you have been hurt by a dangerous product, take care to select a law firm with a proven history of success in this specialized area of the law.
Know Your Rights!
- Diet Pills Hurt Me, What Can I Do?
Every year, millions of Americans buy a range of diet and exercise products. After obesity became one of the most prominent health concerns in the United States, the market for these products exploded. Unfortunately, each year a number of these products is discovered to have a harmful effect on the health of the person using them. So what do you do when you find out that your diet pills are hurting your health?
- Help, I Was Injured by a Faulty Power Tool!
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are injured while using a power tool. Many of these injuries are self-inflicted and the result of inexperience or recklessness. Still, others are the result of a defectively designed or manufactured product. So, what should you do if you fall into the second category and have been injured by a faulty power tool?
- Injured at the Beauty Salon, What Should I Do?
Everyday, millions of women have various services performed at beauty salons. Hair cuts, dying, threading, manicures and pedicures, massages, and a host of other services are now available. While one rarely thinks about it, though, beauty salons are actually very dangerous environments. So what should you do if you are injured at the beauty salon?
- Product Liability Laws in Illinois
Defective or dangerous products lead to hundreds of injury in Illinois every year. Product liability law ensures responsibility and liability from a manufacturer. Learn what your options are if you have been injured from a defective product.
- What Are Consumer Rights?
The phrase "consumer rights" is thrown around rather freely these days. But what are consumer rights? Are they written down somewhere? Where do they come from? What are the rights?
- What to do if You Have Been Food Poisoned
Food poisoning is in the news again, and it seems to be an increasingly common occurrence as more and more of us eat meals prepared by others on a regular basis. So what should you do if you have become ill after eating contaminated food? The answer will depend on the particular circumstances of your illness.
- What to do When a Defective Part Caused Your Car Accident
Have you or someone you know been involved in a car accident? Was the accident caused or made worse by a defective part? We expect our cars to keep us and our families safe, but with a system of hundreds of moving parts, it is not uncommon for something to fail, often with dangerous results. Indeed, each year, millions of cars are recalled because of manufacturing defects or defective parts that can cause fatal car crashes.
Product Liability Law Articles
- Legal Options for Victims of IVF MalpracticeCommitting to fertility treatment is a process that more and more Americans undergo each year. With rising income levels and adults increasingly postponing parenthood in favor of their careers, it’s a rapidly growing industry that millions put their faith in. However, physicians and fertility clinics sometimes betray this trust by committing negligence and malpractice that comprises a person’s ability to conceive. But as our post on IVF malpractice describes, victims of reproductive negligence can often obtain damages in court. There are many signs of potential negligence, such as the accidental destruction of reproductive tissue or an overworked staff. While no fertility treatment comes with a guarantee of success, doctors are obligated to provide your treatment correctly and without preventable mistakes. If you suspect that malpractice has hurt your chances of conception, the law firm of Console & Associates, P.C. can help you.
- Ditropan Lawsuits Over Undisclosed Side Effects, Dementia RiskElderly individuals often rely on drugs like Ditropan to treat issues like poor bladder control and to improve their quality of life. However, many patients are reporting that they've suffered due to undisclosed risks involving the drug. Studies have revealed serious side effects including loss of recall, onset of dementia, and Alzheimers as stemming from anticholinergic drugs like Ditropan. If you suffered from the undisclosed risks of Ditropan, you may have grounds for a lawsuit to compensate your economic losses and personal suffering. A skilled Ditropan lawyer can help you build a strong case and get the help you deserve. Consider calling the experienced personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Console & Associates, P.C.
- The Impact of Joint and Several Liability on Your Nevada Personal Injury ClaimExplore how joint and several liability can affect your personal injury claim, understanding its implications for compensation.
- Understanding the PFAS Water Provider Settlement: A Comprehensive OverviewOn June 22nd, 2023, a defining event in environmental litigation transpired when 3M Co. agreed to a substantial settlement, amounting to an initial $10.3 billion due to allegations related to PFAS contamination. With the potential for this settlement to edge closer to $12.5 billion, it's crucial for water providers and municipalities to be well-versed with the details and implications.
- Chemical Hair Straighteners: A Concern for Uterine CancerA new study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows that using chemical hair straighteners often could make it more likely for someone to get uterine cancer. The Sister Study, as people are calling it, watched around 34,000 women in the U.S. for more than ten years. It found a 1.64 percent chance of getting uterine cancer by age 70 for women who never used these products. Women who used them a lot had a chance more than double, at 4.05 percent. Using them a lot means more than four times in one year, no matter who puts it on.
- If You’ve Been Injured by a Water Meter Lid in California, Here’s What You Need to Know.There are approximately 3,000 dangerous water meter box lids in California that can cause injuries to innocent pedestrians. Located in an underground box and covered with a lid, the water meters are owned and maintained by different entities, such as municipalities and cities, who may be liable for injuries to the pedestrians. Other responsible parties could include property owners, maintenance and utility companies, and others involved in the sales, installation, inspection, and maintenance of these devices.
- Exploring Nevada Car Accidents Caused by Brake MalfunctionIn the realm of traffic accidents, a critical issue that can be complex is when a collision is caused by a brake malfunction. Explore the legal implications and potential recourse for those involved in these unfortunate circumstances.
- Ethylene Oxide Lawsuits Due to CancerIn the communities surrounding over 100 facilities in the U.S. that use ethylene oxide, air contamination may lead to cancer. If you or your family lives near a commercial sterilization facility, manufacturing plant, or any industrial facility that utilizes this carcinogenic chemical and you have been diagnosed with cancer, the contamination could be the cause. The factory or facility may be exposing your entire community to toxic chemicals, making you eligible for compensation to cover cancer treatment expenses and other damages suffered.
- What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?From April 2023, in addition to the usual notifications about friend’s posts, group activities and event invitations, Facebook users have been notified about a class action lawsuit against the social media platform. Any Facebook user who has had an account in the United States between May 2007 and April 2022 can make a claim and receive a portion of the $725 million court-ordered settlement from Meta, Facebook’s parent company. Though the settlement amount for an individual Facebook user might end up only being a few dollars, it’s likely millions will jump at the chance to receive a piece of the settlement - even if it only covers a cup of coffee. What exactly is a class action lawsuit and what are the requirements to receive compensation?
- Class Action Lawsuit Against Social Media ChannelsSocial media permeates nearly every part of our lives. Social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube allow users to communicate with one another, share information and create content – but a new federal lawsuit alleges these channels are equivalent to dangerous and defective products, with app makers predatorily targeting young users to get them hooked on their services for good.
- All Product Liability Articles