Product Liability

The liability of any or all parties involved in the manufacturing of a product for damage caused by that product is known as products liability. This includes component part manufacturers (at the top of the supply chain), assembling manufacturers, wholesalers, and retail shop owners (at the bottom of the chain). Products liability actions are filed when a product contains inherent faults that cause harm to a consumer (or someone to whom the product was borrowed, donated, etc.). Products liability has expanded the concept of tangible personal property to include intangibles (such as gas), naturals (such as pets), real estate (such as a house), and writings (i.e. navigational charts). Tort law is the principal source of product liability.

Case of Prima Facie (for the commercial seller of the defective product)

The plaintiff uses a product that the defendant sells.

A commercial supplier of such a product is the defendant.

An injury occurs to the plaintiff.

The item was defective when the defendant sold it.

The plaintiff’s injury was caused by a defect that was both actual and proximate.

Liability Claims for Products

Liability lawsuits for defective products might be based on negligence, strict liability, or a breach of the warranty of fitness. Because there is no federal product liability legislation, this will largely depend on the jurisdiction in which the claim is filed. Because of this lack of consistency, the US Department of Commerce published the Model Uniform Products Liability Act (MUPLA), which aimed to promote uniform processes for the products liability tort.

Liability-Creating Defects

There are three types of product defects for which manufacturers and suppliers are liable:

Design flaws

Design flaws are inherent in the product since they exist before it is made.

While the object may perform its purpose adequately, a design defect makes it unnecessarily risky to use.

The plaintiff bears the burden of proof in 47 states to establish the existence of a design fault. However, in Alaska, California, and Hawaii, the defendant must justify the product’s design to demonstrate that there was no defect.

Defects in Manufacturing

Manufacturing flaws arise during the item’s construction or manufacture.

In this situation, only a few products of the same type are defective.

Marketing mistakes

Improper instructions and omissions to alert consumers of hidden dangers in the product are examples of marketing flaws.

Strict Liability Insurance

In most cases, products responsibility is a strict liability offense. In product liability, regardless of the defendant’s intent, a defendant is responsible if the plaintiff establishes that the product is defective. It makes no difference whether the maker or supplier took great care; if the product has a defect that causes harm, he or she will be held responsible.

Even if the product is defective, overcoming liability

Even when a product fails due to a design error, some courts will apply one of two criteria to determine if the defendant is liable.

Risk-Utility Analysis

If evidence establishes that the product’s utility surpasses its inherent risk of injury, the defendant is not liable for a design fault.

Test of Consumer Expectations

When used in a reasonable manner, a reasonable consumer would find the product to be defective.

Even though the product’s design flaw resulted in injury, the defendant is not responsible if a reasonable consumer would not deem it defective when used in a reasonable manner.

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