Product Liability

Did you suffer a personal injury as a result of a defective product? Did the product you purchase have insufficient warnings, design flaws or a manufacturing defect?

In most personal injury cases you must prove that the injury was caused by another individual's intentional or negligent behavior. In the case of product liability, however, you do not necessarily have to prove that the manufacturer's negligence caused your personal injury.

Strict liability laws have been developed that allow an individual who has been injured by a product to receive compensation. Product liability claims are currently determined by state laws and the Uniform Commercial code. Violations of product liability laws are determined by assessing negligence, strict liability, or a breach of warranty against a manufacturer. The liability for the defective product could reside with any business involved in the supply chain. This would include the manufacturer, distributor, vendor, store owner, or the wholesaler of the defective product. An exception could be made for a seller who is not generally involved in the selling of the product, for example, a seller at a garage sale.

The strict liability standard will issue liability to these parties regardless of how much care was given to the design, manufacture, marketing, or sale of the product. The goal of product liability laws is to stop manufacturers from selling products they know are defective or dangerous.

Product Liability Claim

In all jurisdictions, in order to prove your product liability claim you must have suffered a personal injury and you must prove that the product was defective. It is not necessary to prove that your injury was directly caused by the manufacturer's negligence.

There are four primary categories of defects that can occur in the development of a product. They are design defects, defects in marketing or warnings, manufacturing defects, or breach of warranty. Product liability claims should target one or more of the defects as the cause of the personal injury.

Design Defects

    A design defect can be proven if the product is not safe for its intended use or for any uses that were foreseeable. In order to prove this claim you may have to determine if the product could have been made safer. If the answer is yes, then it was up to the manufacturer to make the product safer. The safety benefits should have outweighed the increased costs to the manufacturer. If the manufacturer knowingly designed a defective product or allowed it to go to market they may be found negligent for injuries suffered because of their defective product and be assessed additional punitive penalties.

Insufficient Warnings or Marketing

    A product might be found to contain marketing defects if it contains insufficient safety warnings, if the instructions were missing, or they were not clear enough for a reasonable person to clearly understand how to use the product in a safe way. In recent court cases it has been unclear as to what types of warnings may be considered sufficient. In addition, you may have a personal injury claim if you can prove that there were misrepresentations in the way the product was marketed or if the product was marketed as being safe but important information about the product was disregarded or not reported to the buyer.

Manufacturing Defects

    One reason products cause injuries is because they were manufactured incorrectly. Manufacturing defects can be the result of an improper design specification or an error in manufacturing for the particular product which caused your injury. An error in manufacturing can be proven if the product which injured you was not manufactured the same as other identical products. A manufacturer's own design specifications can be used to determine if there was a flaw in manufacturing.

Breach of Warranty

    In product liability law a breach of warranty can include violations of an expressed warranty, implied warranty, or extended warranty. Implied warranties for different categories of products might be outlined in the sale of goods section of your state's Uniform Commercial Code. An express warranty might be in writing or verbally given to you at the time you purchased the product. It is best to discuss all product warranty issues with an attorney who is familiar with the product warranty statutes of your state.

Personal Injury Attorney

Product liability cases can be very complex. Some states have product liability statutes which clearly define strict liability; other states may place a higher burden on the plaintiff to prove their claim. State laws and their statute of limitations may vary by state. In addition, testimony from experts as well as a comprehensive explanation for the personal injury must be gathered and coherently presented, often before a jury.

There are also several defenses that may be used by the manufacturer to defeat a product liability lawsuit. Several defenses include that the plaintiff has not adequately identified the product supplier or that the plaintiff modified the product after the purchase and this modification caused the plaintiff's injury. In this instance, the manufacturer did not have control over the product and were therefore unable to foresee how the product would be used. They are therefore not responsible for the injuries.

A Personal Injury Attorney is a great resource to evaluate all of these issues and determine if you have a strict liability claim. If you have been injured by a defective product a personal injury attorney can get you the compensation you deserve.

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