Product Liability: Dangerous Products Can Cause Severe Damage
Consumers should be able trust that the products they purchase are safe when used as designed. Unfortunately, consumers are often injured by common products and devices they use every day. Automobile seat belts and air bags fail to operate. Car roofs crush rather than protect occupants. Automobile gas tanks may catch fire or explode. Machinery and power tools used by workers fail and cause injuries. Defective chairs and ladders can collapse. Household products, toys, equipment, medical prostheses and pharmaceuticals can be designed or manufactured with defects that pose dangers. The list of potential defective products is nearly endless. Sometimes the failure of these products cause significant injuries or death.
Products Liability Law
Products liability is the area of law that requires designers, manufacturers and suppliers to pay for injuries to consumers caused by defects and hazards in the products they market. The purpose of products liability law is to ensure that the costs of injuries resulting from defective products are borne by the parties who place such defective products on the market.
There are three different theories on which a products liability action may be based: negligence, breach of warranty and strict liability. A negligence theory looks to the reasonableness of the defendant’s conduct. A manufacturer must exercise reasonable care in designing, manufacturing, inspecting and testing its products. Manufacturers and sellers must also exercise reasonable care to warn of dangerous conditions. If a consumer is injured by the failure of a manufacturer or seller to exercise reasonable care in discharging the above responsibilities, they may be held liable under a negligence theory.
Breach of Warranty
A products liability suit may also be based on a breach of warranty. This type of liability is based upon contract law. In sales contracts there are express and implied warranties. When these warranties are breached, an injured party may recover damages resulting from the breach. Disclaimers are often included in sales contracts and on the fine print of labels and documents included with the product.
Strict Products Liability
The challenges with the above theories are that negligence is often difficult to prove, and warranties are often excluded by disclaimers. Under strict products liability, however, it is not usually necessary to show that the manufacturer or seller was negligent or breached a warranty in order to recover damages for injuries sustained from a defective product. California law has led the way in strict products liability. Strict liability does not require proof of fault on behalf of the designer, manufacturer or seller. In a strict liability claim, the injured party need only show that: 1) the product was defective, 2) the defect existed prior to the manufacturer releasing the product, and 3) the defect caused the victim’s damages.
The injured party may prove that a product is defective from any of three types of defects: design defects, manufacturing defects and “failure to warn” defects.
What Exactly is Personal Injury?
What is Personal Injury Lawyer
Design defects arise during the product design phase, or before the product is manufactured. In this situation, every product of that model or type is usually defective. A product has a design defect if a foreseeable risk of harm could have been reduced or eliminated by using another feasible design and the failure to use this alternative design caused the product to be unsafe.
A manufacturing defect exists if there are mistakes or problems during the production phase of a product. Many of the products which come off the assembly line may be safe, but other products come off the same assembly line with a defect. The manufacturer may be held liable for failing to detect the defect before the product reaches the consumer.
Failure to Warn
The third type of case is a defect which is caused by a failure to warn of a product danger. These cases typically involve a product which may be safe if used in one manner, but hazardous if used in another foreseeable manner. In these situations, the product should include clear, visible, and concise warnings explaining the danger and its consequences. If the product lacks a reasonable warning, the product is defective.
If You Have Been Injured by a Defective Product
If you or someone close to you has been injured by a defective product, you should keep the product and any packaging, instructions, and labels. These items are important in proving your case. Defective product cases can be very complex and expensive to prosecute. You should select a law firm with substantial expertise and resources. If you desire an immediate consultation on a defective or hazardous product case, please call a California product liability lawyer at The Reeves Law Group at (800) 644-8000 or email us.