What Does Product Liability Mean to Me?
Manufacturers have legal responsibility for the kind of products or services they provide to the consumer. This legal responsibility is what's referred to as product liability.
This consumer protection policy protects consumers from the kinds of products or services they purchase. So if a consumer suffers injury deriving from using a particular product, they may be able to seek legal action against the manufacturer.
In most cases, the plaintiff's lawsuit is based on the following theories:
- Breach of warranty
- Strict liability
What Is the Breach of Warranty?
You can sue the seller or manufacturer of a product for failing to fulfill the terms of a promise, guarantee, claim, or any other representation made by the product. However, this theory isn't common in a product liability lawsuit because the plaintiff must prove that they had a contract with the seller or manufacturer.
For this reason, breach of warranty falls under contract law. It only comes in handy if there is a specific agreement between the consumer and the manufacturer.
Breach of warranty further falls into three subcategories:
Express warranty refers to a situation where a seller or manufacturer states or communicates some guarantee relating to a particular product. For example, the statement 'lose belly fat in 15 days' is an express warranty even if the word 'guarantee' isn't used.
Implied Warranty of Merchantability
An implied warranty of merchantability is an unspoken or unwritten guarantee that the product is suitable for its intended purpose. For example, foods sold at a grocery store are presumed to be fit for human consumption. Therefore, if you purchase such food and later discover that it's not fit for consumption, it could be a case of breach of the implied warranty of merchantability.
Implied Warranty of Fitness
An implied warranty of fitness guarantees that a product is fit for a particular, non-ordinary purpose. Here's a hypothetical example of an implied warranty of fitness.
You walk into a beauty store looking for remedies for acne. You know nothing about acne treatment, so you ask the store attendant to recommend something that would work for you. The store attendant recommends a particular product (let's call it Product X), promising to help get rid of your acne. This recommendation alone is considered an implied warranty of fitness, which is not an offense.
However, if you develop serious skin problems resulting from using Product X to clear acne a week later, this could breach the implied warranty of fitness.
Negligence is pretty common in product liability claims. This refers to failure to exercise reasonable care. In product liability claims, negligence could either be something done the wrong way or something not done at all when it should have been.
When it comes to negligence, you can file lawsuits against anyone within the business or supply chain. This includes but is not limited to:
- Product designer
- Product manufacturer
- Product distributor
- Product seller
Strict Product Liability
In strict product liability, a particular entity or individual is held legally responsible for injuries or damages even if they did not act with negligence or fault. This theory is usually common in scenarios such as animal bites, abnormally dangerous activities, and manufacturing defects.
However, this article focuses on manufacturing defects; click here to learn more about animal bites settlements.
How Strict Product Liability Works
Strict liability involves a situation where a particular product meets all production safety requirements but still harms the consumer.
For example, the product:
- was properly manufactured.
- was safely designed.
- had a clear warning.
- passed all safety tests and inspections.
However, there's always a chance that such a product could harm the consumer differently. When that happens, the consumer might be able to seek legal action against the manufacturer.
So how does a consumer prove negligence in a strict product liability claim?
The answer is simple: they don't have to. This is because proving that a particular entity or individual acted negligently, causing the consumer's injury, is almost impossible under such circumstances. Therefore, the law assumes that the product manufacturer still bears responsibility for their products even if they meet all safety requirements.
When you contact Morgan & Morgan for a free case evaluation involving a strict product liability claim, our lawyers will examine your case to determine whether it meets certain requirements. To increase your chances of winning the claim, our attorneys will have to prove that:
- the product was reasonably dangerous at the time of design, manufacturing, or sale.
- during design, manufacturing, and sale, the parties didn't expect the product to be altered before reaching the consumer.
- the consumer of the product was injured.
- the product caused the injury suffered by the consumer of the product.
- the product was used in a way that was foreseeable by the manufacturer or seller.
How Can a Product Liability Lawyer Help You?
It's one thing to have a claim and a totally different thing to prove the other party's negligence. This is the primary reason it's always advisable to work with an attorney.
Still not convinced? Here are more reasons you need a product liability attorney.
Identifying the Liable Party
Given that product liability laws are complicated, the party you believe is responsible for your injury or that of your beloved one may not necessarily be guilty. Hiring an attorney is crucial in establishing the specific party at fault, making it easier to seek legal action against them. Even though it's possible to sue the product's manufacturer, designer, and retailer, product liability cases vary from one consumer to another.
Gathering Crucial Evidence
Even if you believe you have a strong case against the defendant, things could be very different from the legal perspective. However, the weight of your evidence determines the case's outcome, and that's one thing a product liability attorney can help you with.
From the theories above, you've seen how tricky it is to prove that the other party is responsible for the damages caused to you or your loved ones.