About Defective Product Liability
The law of product deals with the responsibility of the manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer of an item for injuries resulting from dangerous and flawed items. These items subject to the law run the spectrum from food, drugs, appliances, automobiles, medical devices, medical implants, blood, tobacco, and even commercial jets.
At common law, the sale of any item is viewed as a commercial transaction at which only the parties of the commercial contract can sue. The law has evolved, and today, virtually anyone injured by a “defective” item (which is unreasonably dangerous for its intended use) can bring an action for damages against any party in the distributive chain of the product, whether it be the manufacturer, the wholesaler, the retailer, or even the maker of a component part.
Product Liability & Negligence
A basic negligence claim consists of proof of the following:
- A duty owed on the part of the manufacturer
- A breach of that duty
- That the breach caused the plaintiff’s injury
- An injury itself
A product’s liability negligence claim usually falls into one of three possible types:
- Design defect
- Manufacturing defect
- Failure to warn
Over time, several other negligence concepts have arisen to deal with certain specific situations, including negligence per se (using a manufacturer’s violation of a law or regulation in place of proof of a duty and a breach) and res ipsa loquitur (an inference of negligence under certain conditions). The difficulties of an injured customer to prove what a manufacturer did or did not do during the design or manufacture of an item has led to the development of newer accountability claims such as strict liability.
Product Liability & Strict Liability
Rather than focus on the behavior of the manufacturer (as in negligence), strict liability claims focus on the unit itself. The basic component of this is proof that the unit is impaired or unreasonably dangerous. Similar to negligence claims, these claims may attack a product’s design, manufacture, or warnings. The various U.S. states have employed numerous ways to determine an item’s deficiency. Most of the tests used to determine impairments include concepts such as:
- Consumer expectations (Consumer Expectations Test)
- Balancing of the object’s risk and its utility (Risk-Utility Test)
- Obviousness of the danger (Open and Obvious Danger Rule)
- Existence of a safer design alternative (Feasible/Reasonable Design Alternative)
- Sophistication of the object’s user (Sophisticated User Doctrine)
- Existence of knowledgeable intermediaries between the manufacturer and the user (Learned Intermediary Doctrine)
Strict liability for defective units has often been criticized as an extremely harsh doctrine that imposes high accountability costs upon manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, and almost anyone else in the chain of commerce. This is one of the primary reasons why warning labels have become so ubiquitous on modern products.
Nonetheless strict liability has become the overwhelming majority rule in the United States, due to the widespread agreement that it is the only way to ensure that such parties will always take all reasonable measures to protect the consumer because they know they will always be liable for any harm caused by the item.
Your Defective Product Case- There is Help
It is important to know what to do to protect the legal rights of yourself and your loved ones. Selecting the right personal injury attorney is an important decision. You should choose someone who is experienced, aggressive, and dedicated to obtaining fair compensation for your defective product injury. We have successfully handled thousands of injury cases, which is why you should contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer Frank D. Penney.