What is Product Liability?

Product Liability

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Product liability is a legal term that details the manufacturer, distributor, and seller’s responsibilities.  This includes what may happen if a buyer becomes injured by a defective product. Manufacturers are tasked by law with the responsibility of maintaining certain standards. 

According to product liability laws, buyers have legal protections concerning products deemed to be unreasonably dangerous. This includes products designed in ways in which dangers are not readily apparent.  Manufacturers are also responsible for testing and inspecting the products they make. Sellers are also responsible for making reasonable inspections of the items they choose to sell.

Product liability lawyers can help you determine if a manufacturer, distributor, or seller has neglected their legal duty of care. Read on for more information about the specifics of product liability law and how it’s different from your typical personal injury claim.

Product Liability Claims 

Products liability refers to the liability of the manufacturer of parts, an assembling manufacturer, the wholesaler, and the retail store owner. Products containing inherent defects that cause harm to a product user could be subject to a product liability suit. 

Products are tangible personal property, as well as intangibles, naturals, real estate, and writings. Product liability is derived from tort law because it’s based on negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty. 

Product liability claims are founded on the concepts of:

Types of Liability Defects

The following product defects can incur liability amongst manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers:

Design Defects

Design defects are inherent because they exist before the product is even manufactured. Companies can be held liable when their products are designed poorly. Plaintiffs generally have the burden of proving the existence of a design defect.

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Manufacturing Defects

Manufacturing defects occur because of errors in construction or production. A manufacturing defect is an unintentional defect in a product. When manufacturing defects occur and a product departs from its intended design, it can be dangerous. 

The manufacturing defect must have caused your resulting injury. If you injured yourself because of your errors, you only have a manufacturing defect claim if you can prove that the manufacturing defect, and not your erroneous behavior, caused your accident.

Marketing Defects

Defects in marketing are caused by improper instructions.  If product manufacturers fail to warn consumers of latent dangers in their products, they can be held liable. 

Understanding each category can help you to decide whether you have a valid claim, as well as the strategy to use when presenting your case.

Strict Liability

Product liability is generally considered a strict liability offense. In civil law, strict liability holds those legally responsible for the consequences caused by activity. It’s strict because these individuals are held liable even without fault or criminal intent. 

Product Liability Law

If someone becomes injured because of a product flaw, these claims are based on state laws, which may vary. There aren’t any federal product liability laws. The laws of Each state differ in the following ways:

  • Statutes of limitation
  • Liability standards
  • Damage caps caps
  • Innocent seller statute
  • Joint liability claims

Proving Product Liability

Courts generally use one of two following tests to determine if a defendant is liable for a product defect: 

Risk-Utility

If a defendant proves that the product’s utility outweighs its inherent risk of harm, courts may find that the defendant is not liable for a design defect. 

Expectation Analysis

If a reasonable consumer would not find the product to be defective while using it reasonably, then the defendant may not be liable for the injuries caused. This may also apply even when the product’s design flaw results in an injury. 

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Duty to Warn

Entities can also be held liable for not properly warning their consumers. Warning labels must inform consumers of hazards, risks, effects of the hazard, and how to avoid the hazard. These warnings should be visible and appropriately color-coded.

Proof of Liability

Any of the one or more parties involved in the distribution chain can be found liable. Defects can include design defects that existed before the manufacturing process began and those that occurred during the actual manufacturing process or marketing. 

If you’re unsure whether or not you can prove liability in your claim, then you may need the assistance of a professional product liability attorney. 

Product Liability Lawyer

If you or a loved one have been injured because of a defective product, contacting an attorney may prove beneficial.  However, not just any attorney. It’s important to find a highly experienced product liability lawyer in your state. This individual needs to have received specialized kind of personal injury training. 

Your product liability attorney can discuss the specifics of your case and answer all of your burning questions. Product liability law specialists understand that it is crucial to have an attorney with significant experience and the niche knowledge required to represent you. 

Article and permission to publish here provided by Anna Larina. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on April 4, 2022.

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