What Is Strict Product Liability?

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 What is Strict Product Liability?

Generally speaking, thousands of consumer products are bought and sold on a daily basis. From appliances to cars to beauty products, consumer purchases are at an all-time high thanks to the online e-commerce industry. Regardless of whether you do your shopping in store or online, however, the majority of consumers believe that the products they are purchasing are safe to use.

Unfortunately, this belief sometimes falls short of reality when it comes to the purchase and use of consumer products. For instance, some consumer products are inherently dangerous like a knife or a buzz saw. In such cases, consumers tend to accept a certain level of risk when purchasing or using these types of products.

It is also much more difficult to sue entities who create and sell products that already come equipped with a certain amount of risk. This is because it is on the consumer to exercise personal care when using this kind of product.

On the other hand, some consumer products were never intended to be dangerous or unsafe for consumer use. Instead, these products may have become dangerous or unsafe due to a product defect, such as in its design, manufacture, assembly, distribution, or sale. An entity may become liable for a product when a consumer is unnecessarily or unknowingly exposed to purchasing and using a product that contains flaws. This is a products liability claim.

Then there are extreme cases that may result in filing a lawsuit for strict product liability. A lawsuit based on a claim for strict product liability may be filed when a consumer is injured by a product that may or may not contain any defects. In a strict product liability case, this means that a manufacturer, a seller, or a retailer may be held strictly liable for injuries caused by using a consumer product even if no defects occurred when making or selling that product.

It is important to note, however, that not every product liability case may involve a claim for strict product liability. In fact, strict liability lawsuits are only reserved for products that are deemed to be defective and unreasonably dangerous. An injured party will also need to prove several other elements, including that it was foreseeable to the seller or manufacturer that the defective product would ultimately reach and be bought by members of the general public.

To learn more about the regulations and requirements for bringing a strict product liability lawsuit in your state, you should speak to a qualified consumer lawyer in your area as soon as possible.

What are the Different Kinds of Product Liability?

There are normally three types of defects that may serve as the basis of a standard product liability lawsuit. These may include:

  • Design defects;
  • Manufacturing defects; and/or
  • Warning label defects.

A design defect is basically what it sounds like—the design contains a defect or flaw that makes the product dangerous or unsafe for consumer use. In this instance, the product will almost always be found to be defective since the design itself is inherently flawed.

This means that no matter how well or carefully the product is manufactured, the design will still be considered as dangerous or unsafe for consumer use. It also means that regardless of the precautionary measures that a retailer takes when selling or reselling the product, the defect will still exist.

For example, if a crib is made out of flexible material that can be pulled apart by small children and a toddler gets their head caught between the bars, then their parents may be able to sue the crib designer or manufacturer for damages based on a claim for defective product design.

On the other hand, a product involved in a lawsuit for a manufacturing defect may not have any defects or flaws in its design, but may have become defective when the manufacturer assembled the pieces.

For instance, in returning to the crib example, imagine that the crib had to be constructed using certain nuts and bolts to ensure that the bars could not be pulled apart by small children. If the manufacturer used inferior nuts and bolts to assemble the crib during the manufacturing process, then they may be held liable for any harm caused to a child due to the crib falling apart and/or any other manufacturing-related defects.

The third category of defects, known as a warning label defect, basically requires an entity to warn consumers about any risks that are associated with using a particular product in a proper manner. An entity may be held liable for subsequent injuries if they failed to warn consumers about known dangers that may occur when using the product or if a product’s instructions were unclear or contained errors.

In addition, a product may also have a defective warning label if the label is not placed somewhere conspicuous or readily visible. For example, if the upholstery on a futon covered the instructions or a warning label regarding the risks of sleeping on it, then this may be considered a warning label defect. This is because consumers would not be able to see the instructions or potential risks.

Apart from the three defects just mentioned, there is one other type of claim that may be the basis of a product liability lawsuit. This is known as strict liability. A business may be held strictly liable for injuries received from using a consumer product even if the product was safely designed, properly manufactured, and contained proper instructions and/or an adequate warning label. In other words, the product itself is the issue and thus a manufacturer or seller can be sued for damages.

What Must Be Proved in Strict Liability Cases?

Despite its name, a plaintiff will still need to show that certain factors were present in order to prove a case for strict product liability. If a plaintiff fails to demonstrate all of the required elements of proof, then they will not be able to recover any damages for their injuries. It should be noted, however, that the elements of proof for strict products liability cases will vary in accordance with state laws.

Although there are no overarching federal laws that apply in such cases, the standard elements of proof for strict product liability cases typically require a plaintiff to demonstrate the following factors:

  • That the consumer product in question was unreasonably dangerous at the time it was designed, manufactured, or sold to a consumer;
  • That the entities within the product’s chain of distribution did not expect to alter or modify the way that the product was designed, manufactured, or sold before it became available for purchase (i.e., reached the general public or marketplace);
  • That the consumer suffered injuries and that their injuries were a direct result of using the product; and
  • That the product was used by the consumer in a manner that was foreseeable to the manufacturer and/or seller of the product.

In addition to showing that using the product caused the consumer to suffer injuries, a consumer may also need to show that the product was in the same condition as it was when the consumer purchased or received the product for use. However, if the consumer altered the product in any way after it was purchased and then was subsequently injured by the product, they may not be able to recover damages from the manufacturer or seller.

Finally, the consumer must also prove that they used the product in the way that it was intended to be used by the average consumer.

For instance, if a consumer decided to use a lunch tray as a snowboard while on a ski slope, then they will most likely not be able to hold the manufacturer or seller of the lunch tray liable for any resulting injuries. The reason for this is because a lunch tray is usually not intended to be used as a snowboard nor is its use as a snowboard foreseeable.

What Can You Do If You are Concerned About Strict Product Liability?

If you have been sued or believe that you are about to be sued for strict product liability, then it is strongly recommended that you hire a local liability lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced consumer lawyer can provide ample legal advice about your rights as well as any legal defenses that may be available under the relevant laws in your state. Your attorney can also provide adequate legal representation in civil court on the matter.

In addition, your attorney can discuss your options and will be able to determine whether you may be better off settling the case out of court. Also, if you need help in negotiating and drafting a settlement agreement with the other party, your attorney will be able to assist you with completing these tasks as well.


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