Product liability cases can arise from several different circumstances, such as manufacturing defects, design defects, failure to warn, and more. They can take several forms, such as breach of warranty or negligence. Several parties involved in various aspects of the supply chain can be held accountable. If the same product caused harm to large numbers of people, a class action lawsuit may be appropriate.
To begin, what exactly constitutes a product liability case? As defined by the Legal Information Institute of Cornell University Law School:
“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).”
This constitutes a rather broad definition. Let’s examine a few of the more common ways in which product liability cases tend to manifest themselves.
Depending on the nature of the defect, a person or group injured by a defective product can seek damages from one or more parties within the supply chain. This may include the manufacturer who makes the product, the retailer that sells the product, or the wholesaler who serves as an intermediary between the two. Under federal law, the two main types of product defects are classified as manufacturing defects and design defects.
Manufacturing defects involve a mistake being made during the assembly of the product. In such a case it befalls the plaintiff to prove that the product was, in fact, defective upon its departure from the manufacturing plant. Design defects differ from manufacturing defects in that they involve a flaw within the inherent design of the product itself. If the design causes a product to be hazardous to its users, the manufacturer can be held liable.
Specific product liability claims
Most often, a product liability case will fall under one of three categories. These include:
- Strict Liability
- Breach of Warranty
Negligence cases require the plaintiff to prove that negligent design or manufacturing practices led to his or her injuries. Strict liability, on the other hand, only necessitates proof that a defective product exists and that it did lead to injury, regardless of any actions during its production or distribution. The concept of strict liability is used in many product liability cases. And breach of warranty involves a false promise made by the product’s creator or distributor that resulted in injury.
This is only a brief and limited overview of product liability litigation. Many other complex factors exist in product liability cases.
At Ferguson & Associates, the attorneys have extensive experience and expertise when it comes to handling product liability cases. Contact us today to learn how best to approach your case.