What is product liability?
Dangerous or flawed products cause many injuries to people each year. You, as a consumer, can protect yourself when you sustain an injury due to a faulty product from a company. Our De Castroverde Personal Injury & Accident Lawyer team wants to help you understand product liability, including your rights to protect yourself.
What Is Product Liability?
Product liability refers to the responsibilities of sellers, manufacturers, and distributors if consumers suffer injuries due to their defective product. Accidents can happen with any product, and manufacturers don’t have to make entirely accident-proof products. But they do have to create and adhere to specific product standards to reduce their risk of someone getting hurt. For example, manufacturers must test and inspect their products before consumers purchase them. Additionally, food, beauty, and car recall fall under product liability.
Product liability also helps protect consumers from faulty products on the market. If you get hurt by a product, you can hold those responsible for the defective goods accountable for their mistakes. If you want to take the company responsible for the faulty goods to court, you must prove you purchased the product in the marketplace. This means that everyone involved in creating the product and getting it to you is at fault for your injury.
There’s no federal law for product liability. Each state has its own product liability laws that may vary from one state to the next. Some concepts that may vary based on the state are:
- Statute of limitations.
- Innocent seller statute.
- Joint and several liabilities.
What Are the Three Main Types of Product Liability?
There are three main types of product liability:
Often, design defects are flaws in a product design from the beginning of its life cycle before manufacturing. This means that something about the original model of the product is unsafe from conception. Unsafe designs can happen because of a poorly designed product, or the product itself will always be unsafe, like a chef’s knife. Manufacturers can put a product through several hazardous tests to determine ways an end user can get hurt. Companies can also test for proper product usage and anticipated misuse during the trial.
The consumer, however, is always at risk of accidents, no matter how many precautions they take to use the products safely.
Manufacturing defects occur during the product’s assembly or manufacturing stage. If a company sells a dangerous product, the manufacturer can be liable. These defects can also happen outside the manufacturer’s control, such as getting parts and pieces from external vendors and sources. A vendor can supply a defective part, causing the entire product to become hazardous for consumer usage, but if a company imports its materials from overseas, it assumes all responsibility for any defects.
This is because the U.S. can’t make a foreign company a party in a liability claim due to the lack of documentation a company may have if they manufactured the part themselves or sourced it from inside the country.
For consumers, manufacturing defects are the common reasons people sustain injuries from products. As opposed to the design defect liability, a product may have a flawless design, but the assembly process in the manufacturing stage may have gone wrong. This means the manufacturing team may have put the product together haphazardly, causing the consumer to get hurt when they use it.
Warnings and Instructions Defects
Most products on the market require businesses to include labels for consumers to read and understand certain elements about the product. Some companies have to put warning labels on products, such as bedding or children’s toys, especially with smaller pieces. When there’s a warning label, there are instructions for how consumers can use the product safely to minimize the chances of getting hurt.
If a company fails to include a warning label and instructions, you can sue the company for negligence with the help of your attorney. If there is a warning label but it’s misleading or fails to show you how to use the product safely, you can also hold the company accountable for product liability.
Who Is Responsible for Product Liability?
One or more parties in the distribution chain can be at fault for the defect and consumer injury in product liability. The distribution chain includes every party involved in the product’s life cycle, from manufacturing to placing it on the retail store’s shelf. Here are the typical parties liable in the distribution chain:
- The product producer.
- Part manufacturers.
- Assembly or installation parties.
- The wholesaler.
- The retail store sells the product to the consumer.
In most cases, the burden of proof falls on the defendant, which is typically one of the parties in the distribution chain, citing the doctrine “res ipsa loquitur” or a thing that speaks for itself. This means that the case wouldn’t have happened if someone wasn’t negligent in getting the product from the production stage to the consumer’s hands. If the court invokes the doctrine, the plaintiff doesn’t have to prove how the defendant was negligent; rather, the defendant has to prove they weren’t negligent.
How Can a Lawyer Help You With Product Liability?
Finding lawyers with experience in product liability can help you with your case, including getting you monetary compensation for the damages the product caused. If you go to civil court, your lawyer may help represent you. Additionally, they can tell you about your rights, how the law protects you, and what additional options you have based on your state’s laws.
Do you have any questions about product liability laws and rules? Are you unsure of the laws in Nevada and the surrounding areas? Contact us, and our team of experts can provide you with helpful answers and resources. If you require legal help for product liability or if you’ve sustained a personal injury and require a lawyer in the Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada, areas, call us now at 702-803-3263. Our phones are open 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
Photo Credit: Image by Gabrielle Henderson is licensed with Unsplash License