According to strict product liability law, a defendant is liable for a defective product regardless of the consumer’s negligence. Unlike a typical negligence claim, the plaintiff only has to prove:
- The product was defective upon being manufactured
- The manufacturer, seller, or distributor intended for the product to reach the plaintiff without any changes being made to it along the way
- The plaintiff and/or their property was injured by the product
What Are the Defenses to Product Liability?
The availability of product liability defenses in a case depends on the facts of the case, such as how the injury was caused and how the product was used. Some common defenses are:
- Assumption of the Risk: A plaintiff is barred from recovery if they know of and voluntarily accept the risks associated with a product.
- Unforeseeable Use: A defendant cannot be held liable for a plaintiff’s injury if the plaintiff has misused the product in a way that is unforeseeable to both the manufacturer and to the average person.
- Substantial Change: A defendant may be relieved of liability if the plaintiff substantially altered the product in some way, and that alteration resulted in an injury.
Is the Statute of Limitations a Defense in a Product Liability Case?
Yes. The statute of limitations is the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit. In most jurisdictions, the plaintiff has approximately three years to file a personal injury lawsuit. If the statute of limitations has expired by the time the plaintiff files their case, the defendant can argue the plaintiff’s case cannot be tried.
What If Something Else Caused the Plaintiff’s Injury?
This is referred to as the “other cause” defense. The defendant can argue that there was some other reason as to why the plaintiff’s injury occurred, such as a superseding cause or an unforeseeable circumstance.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney for a Product Liability Case?
If you are a retailer, manufacturer, or distributor being sued for products liability, contact a personal injury attorney. You have defenses available to you to defend yourself in a personal injury lawsuit.