Consumers expect products to be safe and functional. This is why there are laws that protect consumers from defective products.
These laws include breach of warranty, negligence, and strict liability. These claims typically involve a physical item, but services like electricity, animals, and real estate may also be considered products for product liability.
Statutes of Limitations
Many manufacturers argue that product liability laws are too powerful, causing them to increase costs and reduce their competitiveness. However, when unsafe cars or polluted milk endanger people and cause injuries, victims have the right to hold manufacturers financially responsible.
A product liability claim can be made by anyone injured by a product, even if they did not purchase or lease it. In the past, the rule of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) required that purchasers be responsible for examining and judging goods for hidden defects before purchase. This rule is no longer in effect.
In many states, the law of torts has evolved to impose strict liability for product defects without regard to fault. Similarly, almost all states now allow non-purchasing users to serve as plaintiffs in product liability claims.
A manufacturing defect occurs during the construction or assembly of a product when something goes wrong. For example, if a significant part is left off or a piece of safety equipment is omitted, it can cause injury to consumers. This defect generally affects only a small number of the products made, but it’s still dangerous.
Regardless of how careful a manufacturer is when creating and assembling a product, it can still be held liable for a design defect or manufacturing error that causes injuries to consumers. Product liability laws protect buyers against unreasonably dangerous products, even if the risks were unforeseeable or could have been reduced by a reasonable alternative design. Product manufacturers, distributors, and sellers can all be held liable for defective products that harm people. For more information, contact a skilled product liability lawyer. The sooner you act, the better your chances of a full recovery.
Under product liability laws, consumers can hold manufacturers responsible for harm caused by unsafe products. A consumer must present strong evidence of a design defect to prove that a particular product is unreasonably dangerous.
A product has a design defect if flawed and poses an unreasonable danger when used as intended or for its normal purpose. Unlike manufacturing defects, which are mistakes in production, design flaws exist before the item is made and can affect every product in a line.
To succeed in a design defect claim, plaintiffs must show that the manufacturer could have incorporated a safer alternative without compromising the product’s utility and purpose (sometimes called the risk-utility test). This requirement may vary by jurisdiction. However, in most cases, the law requires that a safer alternative exists and that this alternative would significantly reduce the risks posed by the current design.
Failure to Warn
Often, consumers get hurt when manufacturers fail to include proper warnings in their products. Manufacturers are responsible for warning consumers about potential risks associated with their products. If they fail to do so, victims can file product liability claims for any injuries sustained. A failure to warn claim is different from a design or manufacturing defect because it does not allege the physical flaws in the product but rather that the defendant did not disclose any risks to consumers.
In a failure to warn case, the manufacturer must demonstrate that they placed a warning somewhere on the packaging or in a product manual that was easily accessible to a typical consumer. They also must show that they took steps to stay informed about the product, especially if new risks emerge later.
Defendants may argue that the victim failed to read and follow the warnings, used the product outside of its intended purpose, or tampered with it somehow, leading to the injury. An experienced product liability attorney can anticipate these defenses and protect a plaintiff’s rights.