Defective or dangerous products are the cause of thousands of injuries every year in the U.S. “Product liability law,” the legal rules concerning who is responsible for defective or dangerous products, is different from ordinary injury law, and this set of rules sometimes makes it easier for an injured person to recover damages. Product liability refers to a manufacturer or seller being held liable for placing a defective product into the hands of a consumer. Responsibility for a product defect that causes injury lies with all sellers of the product who are in the distribution chain. In general terms, the law requires that a product meet the ordinary expectations of the consumer. When a product has an unexpected defect or danger, the product cannot be said to meet the ordinary expectations of the consumer.
PRODUCT LIABILITY RESPONSIBLE PARTIES
For product liability to arise, at some point the product must have been sold in the marketplace. Historically, a contractual relationship, known as “privity of contract,” had to exist between the person injured by a product and the supplier of the product in order for the injured person to recover. In most states today, however, that requirement no longer exists, and the injured person does not have to be the purchaser of the product in order to recover. Any person who foreseeably could have been injured by a defective product can recover for his or her injuries, as long as the product was sold to someone. Liability for a product defect could rest with any party in the product’s chain of distribution, such as:
- THE PRODUCT MANUFACTURER
- A MANUFACTURER OF COMPONENT PARTS
- A PARTY THAT ASSEMBLES OR INSTALLS THE PRODUCT
- THE WHOLESALER
- THE RETAIL STORE THAT SOLD THE PRODUCT TO THE CONSUMER
TYPES OF PRODUCT DEFECTS
Under any theory of liability, a plaintiff in a product liability case must prove that the product that caused injury was defective, and that the defect made the product unreasonably dangerous. There are three types of defects that might cause injury and give rise to manufacturer or supplier liability:
- DESIGN DEFECTS: Present in a product from the beginning, even before it is manufactured, in that something in the design of the product is inherently unsafe.
- MANUFACTURING DEFECTS: Those that occur in the course of a product’s manufacture or assembly.
- MARKETING DEFECTS: Flaws in the way a product is marketed, such as improper labeling, insufficient instructions, or inadequate safety warnings
Common Damages Awarded in Product Liability Cases
- MEDICAL, HOSPITAL AND NURSING COSTS
- LOST INCOME
- REDUCED EARNING CAPACITY
- LOSS OF PERSONAL PROPERTY
- MENTAL SUFFERING AND DISTRESS
- PUNITIVE DAMAGES
- LOSS OF CONSORTIUM AND/OR COMPANIONSHIP
DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT INJURIES RELATED TO PRODUCT LIABILITY?
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