In order to protect consumers from accidental injury or death, product manufacturers must meet strict safety guidelines before releasing a new product for sale to the public. Unfortunately, thousands of people are seriously injured or killed every year due to defective products that should never have passed quality control.
If you or a close family member have sustained such an injury, it’s important to know your legal rights before pursuing a product liability lawsuit. Several exceptions exist that protect manufacturers from such suits, including the consumer not properly following the instructions for use.
To increase the likelihood of success with your lawsuit, your claim needs to fit into the guidelines described below.
Categories of Product Liability
Personal injury lawsuits due to defective products typically fall into one of these three categories:
- Design Flaw: This indicates that there was a serious error in the design of the product from its earliest stages. The burden of proof falls on the plaintiff, meaning you have to show that the manufacturers knew about the flaw during the design phase and did not take adequate steps to correct it.
- Manufacturing Process: Even when the design of a new product is perfect, the assembly may not be. Companies are responsible for ensuring that the products they release are manufactured according to established safety standards. If a worker makes a careless error on the assembly line, the business is ultimately responsible because no one quality-checked the final product.
- Marketing Deception: If the manufacturer made false claims to the buyer or didn’t include fair warnings on the packaging, it can be held liable for consumer injuries that occur as a result.
It’s important to note that the defendant may be guilty of violating more than one of these categories of product liability. However, it’s still up to the party bringing suit to prove negligence.
Types of Product Liability
- Breach of Warranty: Anyone who sells a product to a consumer makes a warranty that the product is safe and will perform to the expected standards. When this doesn’t occur, the seller may be guilty of breach of warranty.
- Negligence: This standard applies to all parties who made the product available in the general marketplace. In addition to proving that the defendants were negligent in releasing the product, you must prove that you were directly harmed by this negligence.
- Strict Liability: Some states impose a strict liability standard, which means that the party filing the personal injury lawsuit only needs to prove that the product was defective in some capacity. If you live in a strict liability state and are able to prove this, it doesn’t matter if the product was designed, manufactured, and marketed according to accepted guidelines. (Read this article to see if your state follows strict liability statutes.)
Before proceeding with any personal injury case, it’s best to seek assistance from a qualified attorney.