What is Product Liability Law?
Written by Cooper & Friedman PLLC on April 5, 2016
Although there is not a federal law covering product liability, thousands of injuries occur each year from defective or dangerous products. And the laws covering product liability differ from ordinary injury law because the legal issues involved in unsafe products take on a different set of rules. Since there are many steps involved in manufacturing products, fault in a product liability law case can be blamed on several people or companies. Product liability becomes an issue of concern when a product fails to meet the ordinary expectations for individual consumers.
These faulty products involve anything that is man-made. This means that capital goods and consumer goods make up this area of production and liability. Capital goods cover a wide range of heavy machinery and equipment, while consumer goods focus on household products and smaller electronics.
Inside the umbrella of liability, this theory also involves three specifications of product defects. These include: design, manufacturing, and marketing defects. These all go together to prove failure to meet the consumer’s needs or cause of particular harm towards the consumer.
Understanding Product Liability Law – 3 Categories
Product liability can be broken down even further into three diverse categories: Strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty.
1. Strict Liability – is constantly changing, yet its definition involves the basic defectiveness of a single product. Inside a product’s basic components and functions, there are several ways a product may be deemed defective. This includes the design, manufacturing and “failure to warn.” This category deals mostly with the issue of “failure to meet consumer’s reasonable expectations,” and the “risks outweighing the value to society,” while using the product. Cases involving strict liability do not offer proof of fault (including negligence or tortious intent).
2. Negligence – focuses more on the defendant or manufacturer’s conduct during the production of liable goods. The plaintiff involved in this type of case must prove specific elements of negligence to receive damages for injuries. Negligence may involve, for example, the product design, product materials, production processes, product assembly or testing, and product warnings (or lack of).
3. Breach of Warranty – involves some type of broken promise or guarantee made by either the person selling an item or the company manufacturing the product. The Breach of Warranty involves two main theories: “breach of implied warranty of merchantability,” and the “breach of warranty of fitness for a particular purpose.” This basically means that a defendant failed to meet the needs or requirements for the plaintiff. This can involve a product’s condition, quality, content, title, or some other factor.
Because product liability law is quite complex and dynamic, it’s important to consult with lawyers who understand the legal issues involved in product liability lawsuits.
States have different laws for product liability cases, so it is also advisable to consult an attorney who understands the issues involved in product liability law for your specific region. If you need help with a product liability lawsuit in Kentucky or Indiana, the law firm of Cooper and Friedman may be able to help. Call 502-459-7555 now to learn more or for a free case consultation with an attorney.