Product liability law in the United States is implemented in regards to the legal rules concerning who is responsible for defective or dangerous products. Why is this law so important? Because, each year, many people are injured or even killed at the hands of faulty products that are dangerous and cause harm. This law has been set in place to make it easier for an injured person to recover damages when the risks posed by a product have hurt them. This liability refers to a manufacturer or seller being held liable for placing a defective product into the hands of a consumer.
When it comes to defective products, there is typically a responsible party involved. Liability for a product defect could rest with any party in the product’s chain of distribution. This can include the product manufacturer, a manufacturer of component parts, a party that assembles or installs the product, or the retail store that sold the product to the consumer. For liability matters to apply, the sale of the product must be made in the regular course of the supplier’s business – therefore, somebody who sells a product at a garage sale would probably not be liable in a product liability action.
What Elements Must You Prove to Win a Lawsuit?
- You Were Injured or Suffered Losses: You must have an actual injury or monetary loss. Consider a teakettle exploding after the first time that you use it because of a crack in its base. The teakettle may have almost caused you burns, but didn’t. This means there is no basis for a claim.
- The Product is Defective: Sometimes, there are manufacturing errors made, which is an easy way to prove that the product was defective. Sometimes, the product was just unreasonably dangerous – and in this case, you will probably have to demonstrate that the danger created by the design was unreasonable. In some cases further, you were probably not warned of a hazard and, in this case, you will have to demonstrate that the dangerous quality of the product is not obvious to the ordinary consumer. Then, liability will fall on whether or not the warnings and instructions provided by the manufacturer or supplier were unreasonably sufficient.
- The Defect Caused Your Injury: You must be able to prove that you were specifically injured by the defect itself. If there is evidence that you contributed to whatever caused your injuries, then you may not have a case.
- You Were Using the Product as It Was Intended: You must have been using the product in a way that the manufacturer intended consumers to use it. This does not always mean, however, that you must conform exactly to the manufacturer’s specifications in all cases.
What Types of Product Defects Are There?
- Design Defects: Something in the design of the product is inherently unsafe, which will be present in a product from the beginning.
- Manufacturing Defects: These are defects that occur in the course of a product’s manufacture or assembly.
- Marketing Defects: These are flaws in the way that a product is marketed. This can include labeling, insufficient instructions, or inadequate safety warnings.
Statute of Limitations and Getting the Help You Need
If you are seeking a product liability claim, then you must understand the statute of limitations. These vary from state to state but, specifically in California, a claimant must be able to file a case no later than a year after the discovery of an injury. The courts will no longer see a case that is forwarded after a year of the discovery of harm to a plaintiff. Aside from the statute of limitations, you must make sure that your product claim includes all of the elements mentioned above. You may wish to consult with an attorney who can understand the complex laws surrounding product liability. Call WTW today for a consultation and review of your case.