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PRODUCTS LIABILITY LAW: AN OVERVIEW
Products liability refers to the liability of any or all parties along the chain of manufacture of any product for damage caused by that product. This includes the manufacturer of component parts (at the top of the chain), an assembling manufacturer, the wholesaler, and the retail store owner (at the bottom of the chain). Products containing inherent defects that cause harm to a consumer of the product, or someone to whom the product was loaned, given, etc., are the subjects of products liability suits. While products are generally thought of as tangible personal property, products liability has stretched that definition to include intangibles (gas), naturals (pets), real estate (house), and writings (navigational charts).Products liability claims can be based on negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty of fitness depending on the jurisdiction within which the claim is based. Many states have enacted comprehensive products liability statutes. These statutory provisions can be very diverse such that the the United States Department of Commerce has promulgated a Model Uniform Products Liability Act (MUPLA) for voluntary use by the states. There is no federal products liability law.In any jurisdiction one must prove that the product is defective. There are three types of product defects that incur liability in manufacturers and suppliers: design defects, manufacturing defects, and defects in marketing. Design defects are inherent; they exist before the product is manufactured. While the item might serve its purpose well, it can be unreasonably dangerous to use due to a design flaw. On the other hand, manufacturing defects occur during the construction or production of the item. Only a few out of many products of the same type are flawed in this case. Defects in marketing deal with improper instructions and failures to warn consumers of latent dangers in the product.Products Liability is generally considered a strict liability offense. Strict liability wrongs do not depend on the degree of carefulness by the defendant. Translated to products liability terms, a defendant is liable when it is shown that the product is defective. It is irrelevant whether the manufacturer or supplier exercised great care; if there is a defect in the product that causes harm, he or she will be liable for it.
We handle products liabilty cases when there is a serious injury due to the defect of that product.
Types of Defective Products:
Defectively Manufactured Products
A defectively manufactured product is flawed because of some error in making it, such as a problem at the factory where it was fabricated. As a result, the injury-causing product is somehow different from all the other ones on the shelf.Examples of a manufacturing defect include:a swing set with a cracked chaina tainted batch of cough syrup containing a poisonous substance, ora moped missing its brake pads.In each case, the injury must have been caused by the manufacturing defect. So, if you misjudged a curve, drove off the road, and injured yourself while riding on the moped with the missing brake pads mentioned above, you would only have a manufacturing defect claim if you could show that the missing brake pads -- not your poor steering -- caused your accident.
Defectively Designed Products, a product's design is inherently dangerous or defective. Defective design claims do not arise from some error or mishap in the manufacturing process, but rather involve the claim that an entire line of products is inherently dangerous, regardless of the fact that the injury-causing product was perfectly made according to the manufacturer's specifications.Examples of a design defect include:a particular model of car that has a tendency to flip over while turning a cornera type of sunglasses that fail to protect the eyes from ultraviolet rays, ora line of electric blankets that can electrocute the user when turned on high.Here again, the injury must have been caused by the defective design. If you accidentally crash into another vehicle while driving one of the flip-prone cars mentioned above, you would only have a design defect claim if you could show that you crashed because the car was in the process of flipping over while turning.
Failure to Provide Adequate Warnings or InstructionsThe third type of product liability claim involves a failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions about the product's proper use.
Failure-to-warn claims typically involve a product that is dangerous in some way that's not obvious to the user or that requires the user to exercise special precautions or diligence when using it.Examples of a failure-to-warn claim include:an electric tea kettle that is packaged without sufficient warning concerning its oddly positioned steam valvea cough syrup that does not include on its label a warning that it may cause dangerous side effects if taken in combination with another commonly taken drug such as aspirin, ora corrosive paint-removing chemical that is sold without adequate instructions for safe handling and use.Once again, the injury must result from the failure to warn or properly instruct. If you are burned while using the newfangled tea kettle mentioned above, you would only have a failure-to-warn claim if you were burned by steam unexpectedly coming out of the oddly positioned steam valve.