Understanding Product Liability Law
Federal law requires product manufacturers to meet stringent safety guidelines before releasing a new product to the public. Despite this, thousands of people lose their lives or become seriously injured each year because of a defective product that should not have made it through quality control.
You're within your rights to pursue a personal injury or wrongful death case if a defective product has injured you or a close family member. However, it's important to understand product liability law before doing so. As the person filing a legal claim, it's up to you to prove the injuries or death occurred due to manufacturer negligence and not operator error.
Product Liability Categories
Personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits due to defective products typically fall into one of these three categories:
Design Flaw: A design flaw means that the manufacturer made a significant error affecting consumer safety at the initial stages of product creation. You need to prove the manufacturer was aware of the design flaw and took no action or minimal action to correct it.
Manufacturing Process: The design of a product can be flawless, yet still fail at the assembly stage. Manufacturers must follow established safety protocol to ensure that consumers don't injure themselves when using the product. If an employee on an assembly line makes a careless error, liability lies with the employer because the product made it out the door with no one double checking its safety and quality.
Marketing Deception: Manufacturers and retailers can face liability for making false claims or understating the danger of using a specific product. Any product that poses a health or safety risk to the consumer must come with a warning on the packaging.
It's possible the party to the lawsuit may have violated more than one of these areas of product liability, but the burden remains with you to prove it.
Product Liability Types
If you're successful in court, the judge and jury decide which of these areas apply to the actions of the responding party:
Breach of Warranty: Anyone involved in creating or selling a product to consumers claims the product is safe and will meet performance standards. Injury or death obviously involves a breach of warranty.
Negligence: A negligence standard applies to every party involved in making the product available to the public. You need to prove the responding party displayed negligence in releasing the product and that this negligence resulted in harm.
Strict Liability: If you are able to prove the product is defected, it is not necessary to prove that the manufacturer was negligent.
Product liability law can be extremely complex. An experienced lawyer is the best person to advise you on whether you have a legitimate case and the likelihood of receiving financial compensation due to the harm caused by a defective product.
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