Using a defective product can result in injury and/or loss to the consumer. To protect individuals from suffering damages caused by no fault of their own, courts and state legislatures have enacted strict product liability laws for defective products.
Defendant’s Behavior not Considered
Previously, when trying to prove fault in an injury case, standard negligence rules were applied; and the defendant’s standard of conduct was fundamental. In order for the defendant to be liable, the conduct must have been shown to have fallen below the conduct expected of the average, reasonable person. This is not the case when applying strict liability rules.
Strict product liability laws protect consumers from loss brought about from defective products, regardless of whether or not the manufacturer, seller, or distributor did everything they could to ensure the product was defect-free. Adhering to the strict liability law made it less difficult for plaintiffs to pursue their cases within reason.
What does product liability include?
Products liability includes the following:
- Tangible products
- Intangible products (gas)
- Naturals (pets)
- Real estate (houses)
- Writings (navigational charts)
Basis for Strict Product Liability Claims
Not only can product claims be based on strict liability; they can also be based on negligence or breach of warranty, depending on the jurisdiction within which the claim is based.
Negligence is the failure to behave with the level of care as another reasonable person would under the same circumstances. A breach of warranty claim is one in which the defect violates the warranty of the product. There are two types of warranties: express and implied.
An express warranty is written or stated. An implied warranty is a warranty the law automatically applies to the product, such as the guarantee that the product is fit for the purpose for which it was sold.
Evidence Required in a Strict Liability Case
In order to prove that the defendant is liable, the plaintiff must show:
- The condition of the product sold was unreasonably dangerous.
- The seller expected and intended for the consumer to receive the product without any changes.
- The plaintiff or their property received injury by the product.
It is important to remember that these summaries do not accurately capture how complicated issues involving strict liability cases are. If you suspect that a product has caused you or a loved one harm, you should consult a licensed legal professional.
Strict Product Liability is not Automatic Liability
The defendant’s liability is not automatic simply because the plaintiff has to prove less in a strict product liability case. There are a number of ways the defendant can successfully defend his or herself. Some of these defenses include:
- Despite being aware of the defect, the consumer used the product; or the defendant used the product in a way it was not intended to be used.
- The plaintiff’s actions were careless and contributed to, or were the only cause of injury.
- The injury was caused by third-party interaction with the product.
Types of Product Defects
There are several types of defects which can affect a product. These defects can occur during the design, manufacturing or distribution phases of creating and selling a product. Some of the more common defects include:
A particular aspect in the design of the product line that causes every product sold to be unreasonably dangerous for the intended use.
These involve only the unique product sold to the plaintiff, or a more isolated group.
Inadequate warnings and defects in marketing.
The risk of the injury the plaintiff suffered was obvious, or completely unpredictable; or improper instructions were provided.
Who can be sued for product defects?
Manufacturers of component parts, a assembling manufacturer, the wholesaler, and the retail store owner can all be defendants in strict liability cases.
Although the distributors only receive the products from the manufacturers, strict liability laws allow them to be sued as well, because it is not always possible for the plaintiff to prove who was responsible for the product defect.
Therefore, it is important to retailers and distributors to inspect products received prior to selling them to consumers. Once the plaintiff has filed suit, it is up to them to determine whether the manufacturer, retailer, or distributor was responsible and to recover damages. The defendants will be held responsible only for the reasonably foreseeable consequences of his or her act or omission.
Recovering damages caused by defects
Purchasers of the product, injured guests, bystanders, and others with no direct relationship to the product can sue for damages caused by the product.
How we can help you
Pursuing a personal injury claim that falls under strict product liability is more complicated than many other areas of personal injury law. If you or a loved one has been negatively affected by a defective product or warning, it is in your best interest to contact a qualified legal professional.
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