Product liability is the legal theory that allows injured people to hold designers, manufacturers and others liable for their damages after they are injured by a defective consumer product. It can be applied in cases involving unsafe toys, defective automobiles, dangerous pharmaceuticals and many other products, and these cases can be highly complex. It can be difficult for the injured to prevail in their product liability claims against a big corporation. However, there are legal concepts that can help.
Types of defects
California law imposes strict liability on defendants accused of three types of product defects: manufacturing defects, design defects and “failure to warn.” To explain what this means, first we must define the defects.
A manufacturing defect occurs when a safe design is made unsafe due to a defect somewhere in the manufacturing process. A defect in design makes the product unsafe even if it is manufactured correctly. Finally, a “failure to warn” defect occurs when the defendant has failed to warn consumers about a potential for harm that makes the product unreasonably unsafe. For example, a pharmaceutical company must warn consumers that its otherwise safe drug can be deadly if mixed with alcohol.
Strict liability means the plaintiff does not have to prove that the defendant acted negligently or maliciously. The plaintiff must only prove that the defendant’s product caused the injury and the related damages. By imposing strict liability, the law makes the plaintiff’s job a lot easier.
This is not to say that plaintiffs have it easy in product liability claims. These cases can require testimony from expert witnesses and other evidence that can take months to collect. In some cases, the litigation can go on for years. However, families suffer tremendous medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages after one of their loved ones has been injured due to a defective product. A skilled personal injury attorney can help families understand their options for recovering compensation.