Thousands of injuries are caused every year by defective or damaged products. Product liability law is the set of rules that are used to determine who is at fault for the dangerous product.
Product liability means that a seller or manufacturer can be held accountable for defective products that make it into the hands of consumers. Responsibility for a defect in a product falls on all the sellers that are in the chain of distribution. Generally, the law states that a product must meet regular consumer expectations. If the product has a defect or causes danger, the product is said not to meet the regular expectations of the consumer.
Federal laws regarding product liability do not exist. Instead, product liability lawsuits are based on state law, which varies from state to state. They are usually brought under the theory of breach of warranty or negligence. Also, a set of statutes in each state will have warranty rules pertaining to product liability.
Proof of Liability for Defective Product Lawsuits
In order for product liability law to take effect, the product must have been sold in the marketplace. It used to be that the injured person had to have purchased the product directly, but this is no longer true. Now, even if you received the product in question as a gift, you can recover damages.
Product liability can rest with anyone in the distribution chain. This can include the manufacturer, parts manufacturer, the assembly line, the wholesale distributor, or the retail store where the product was purchased.
Product Defect Types
Under liability theory, the injured party must prove that a defect in the product is what caused the injury and that the defect is what made the product unusually dangerous. Three kinds of defects might cause an injury and bring manufacturer liability; those include defects in the design, defects in manufacturing, and defects in marketing.
Who is the Responsible Party?
The first rule, res ipsa loquitor, is the doctrine that switches the burden of proof in some cases away from the injured party, to the defendant. When this doctrine is used successfully, the injured party no longer has to prove how the defective product was a direct result of some kind of negligence. Instead, the defendant has to prove how/why it is not negligent.
A second rule involves strict liability. If strict liability happens to apply in the case, the injured party only needs to prove that the product was defective, not that the negligent party was the manufacturer. When fault does not have to be proven, the plaintiff may be able to recover damages that they may otherwise not have.
The defendant usually tries to state that the plaintiff did not adequately identify the supplier of the product that caused the injury. Therefore, the plaintiff must be able to link the product with the party responsible for the manufacturing or supplying of the product. A defendant may also try to claim that the plaintiff altered the product once it left the manufacturer, and argue that the plaintiff didn’t use the product correctly.
Product liability lawsuits can be extremely complex. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury caused by a defective product, you need to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
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