Product liability involves an injury caused by a product. The product could be a cold medicine, an automobile, a chain saw, food, hair dye or even soap. It applies to all products.
What Is The Difference Between A Product Liability And A Typical Automobile Negligence Case?
In an automobile negligence case, the plaintiff or the injured party must prove that an automobile driver was negligent or was not exercising reasonable care when driving his vehicle and caused an accident which caused injuries.
In a product liability case (often known as strict product liability), fault or liability is imposed without regard to whether someone was exercising reasonable care. In other words, it is not the conduct of a party, it is the condition of the product.
The case has nothing to do with whether the maker of the product or the seller of the product was not being careful – the object of the case is to show that the “product” was unreasonably dangerous or defective if it failed to perform in a manner reasonably to be expected.
In other words, the maker or the seller of the product can be as careful as possible (meaning not negligent), but the product can still be defective and/or unreasonably dangerous. If defective and/or unreasonably dangerous and it causes an injury, then the maker or the seller can be responsible.
What Are The Types Of Unreasonably Dangerous Product Conditions?
There are three (3) different types of unreasonably dangerous conditions in a product.
First, the product can be defective because of an improper manufacturing process. For example, if an automobile is manufactured with brakes that are defective, i.e., perhaps the brake pads are in a weakened condition because of the type of material that was used. That automobile can be unreasonably dangerous because the brakes can fail. Thus, a person injured can sue the car manufacturer or car seller (or both).
The second type of defective product is a product that is “designed” in a way so as to make the product unreasonably dangerous. For example, if an automobile manufacturer designs the automobile with a driver’s seat that can easily break apart upon a five (5) mile per hour collision, that can be unreasonably dangerous. There is nothing wrong in the manufacturing process. It was simply the design that made it dangerous.
The third method of showing that a product is unreasonably dangerous is a failure to have adequate warnings or instructions on the proper use of the product. When a danger is obvious and generally accepted, there is no duty to warn of that danger. However, when the danger is not obvious, the manufacturer and/or the seller needs to warn and/or explain to the consumer how to properly use a product. For example, in the use of a chain saw, if there is not proper instruction as to how to put the chain saw together in a safe and proper manner, this can cause the chain saw to be defective. This is particularly relevant today because of the numerous products shipped into the United States from overseas where the consumer must assemble portions, if not all, of the product.
Who Is Responsible For A Product Liability?
Anyone that is in the chain of distribution of a product can be responsible, and that includes the manufacturer, the supplier, the distributor, a retailer and even a commercial lessor.
Can An Injured Party Be At Fault?
Not in the traditional sense of negligence. In other words, an injured person is not held to the standard of care in a negligence case. If he is negligent, that cannot be held against him.
However, a user of a product can be guilty of what is known as “assumption of the risk”. This means the injured party, if he knew of a specific product defect, understood and appreciated that this could be a risk of injury from this defect, and then proceeded to use the product, disregarding this known danger.
Thus, a consumer can be unobservant; he can be inattentive or ignorant or failed to discover or guard against a defect and he can still recover. However, if he is aware of the defects and proceeds to use the product knowing there is a risk, he is subject to the defense of exception of risk and that can negate any or a portion of his recovery.
What Can Be Recovered By An Injured Party Under Product Liability:
The injured party can recover damages typical to a personal injury case. This means he can recover for his medical bills (past and future), his pain and suffering, his loss of normal life, his disfigurement, lost wages, other attendant care-taking expenses.
OUR FIRM. Product liability cases are difficult and can be expensive in that one or multiple expert witnesses must be retained by the attorney for the injured party to testify that the product is unreasonably dangerous because of its manufacture, design or failure to warn or instruct. Only experienced law firms will be successful in prosecuting this type of case. The law firm of Williamson, Webster, Falb & Glisson aggressively prosecutes product liability claims on your behalf.
FREE CONSULTATION. Please contact us for a free consultation so we may discuss and review your case in greater detail at 618-462-1077.