6 Things You Did Not Know About Product Liability

Product liability occurs when a seller or manufacturer is found liable for selling a defective product to a consumer. The responsibility for a defective product lies with all those in the distribution chain who are involved with the sale and distribution of the product. The law requires a product to live up to a consumer's expectations. When a product is defective or potentially dangerous, the product is not considered to have met the consumer's expectations. The following are six things you might not know about product liability.

What Does a Product Liability Claim Entail?

In product liability claims, the injured person sues a manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of the product that caused the injury. The three main product issues that may be raised during product liability claims are: the product's danger lies in its defect; the product's danger lies in its design; or the product's danger lies in the lack of sufficient guidelines/warning labels. Therefore, product liability claims are based on manufacturing defects, design defects, and marketing defects.

You Can File a Claim If You Did Not Purchase the Product

Even if you did not buy a defective product, you can still make a defective product claim. Many cases of product liability involve third party injuries, for example, compensation for a child who is hurt by a defective toy. In most states, manufacturers are held liable for injuries caused by defective products regardless of whether the product hurts a by stander, friend, family member, or the owner.

Liability for Product Liability

In product liability cases, the doctrine of "res ipsa loquitur" is applied. The translation of this Latin term is "the thing speaks for itself". This means that the defect would not be present had it not been for the negligence of the defendant. When the doctrine has been invoked successfully, the plaintiff no longer needs to show that the defendant acted negligently; instead, the burden of proof is on the defendant to show they never acted negligently.

The second rule of product liability claims is strict liability. Where strict liability is used, the plaintiff should not prove the negligence of the manufacturer; however, they should show that the product had a defect.

Defenses for Product Liability

One of the defenses for product liability is that the defendant is not directly involved with supply of the product. The plaintiff needs to connect a product with the person(s) responsible for supplying or manufacturing it. The other defense that the defendant may raise is that the plaintiff modified the product and it this modification that caused their injuries. Alternatively, the defense may argue the misuse of a product was the cause of the plaintiff's injuries.

Market Share Liability

This is a concept that may apply when the defendant denies being involved with the supply of a product. When a plaintiff is unable to identify the pharmaceutical company that supplied a specific drug that they took, each manufacturer is held accountable to a certain degree.

Damages for Product Liability

The damages for a product liability claim vary depending on one's case. Typically, the plaintiff will receive damage awards for medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. One may even receive an award of pain and suffering. In special circumstances, the court may award punitive damages to punish the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of a product.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries arising from the use of a defective product, you can seek compensation against the negligent manufacturer or seller of the product. Before you file a claim, you need to familiarize yourself with the six little known concepts of product liability outlined above.

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