PRODUCTS

Products liability refers to the liability of any or all parties along the chain of manufacture of any product for damage caused by that product. This includes the manufacturer of component parts (at the top of the chain), an assembling manufacturer, the wholesaler, and the retail store owner (at the bottom of the chain).

 

Products containing inherent defects that cause harm to a consumer (or someone to whom the product was loaned, given, etc.) of the product would be the subjects of products liability suits.

 

While products are generally thought of as tangible personal property, products liability has stretched that definition to include intangibles (i.e. gas), naturals (i.e. pets), real estate (i.e. house), and writings (i.e. navigational charts). Products liability is derived mainly from torts law.

Products liability claims can be based on negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty of fitness. This will typically depend on the jurisdiction within which the claim is based, due to the fact that there is no federal products liability law.

 

This lack of uniformity has resulted in the United States Department of Commerce publishing the Model Uniform Products Liability Act (MUPLA), which has tried to encourage uniform procedures for the products liability tort. 

What is products liability?


Strict product liability, now the law in nearly every state, allows an action against a manufacturer that sells any defective product resulting in injury to a buyer or anyone who uses it. If you are injured by a defective product, you do not need to prove that a manufacturer was negligent, but only that the product was defective. A strict liability action can be brought against the parties that designed, manufactured, sold or furnished the product.




What is a typical product liability case?


Let’s say a brand-new power mower backfired and injured you. You can try to recover damages by proving that the manufacturer of the lawn mower made a defective product. Most courts today hold companies responsible for a defective product strictly liable to consumers and users for injuries caused by the defect. The product may have had a design flaw or a manufacturing defect. Another possibility may be that the producer or assembler failed to provide adequate warning of a risk or hazard or failed to provide adequate directions for a product's use.




What should you do if you are injured by a product?


Keep the evidence. If a heating fixture ruptures and injures someone in your family, keep as may pieces of the equipment as you can find and disturb the site as little as you can. Make note of the name of the manufacturer, model and serial number. Keep any packaging or instructions. Keep any receipts showing when and where the product was purchased. Take pictures of the site and of the injury. Make a record of exactly when the incident occurred and under what circumstances. Be sure you have accurate names and addresses for all doctors and hospitals treating the injured victim.




Can I settle my case out of court?


ABSOLUTELY. A high percentage of civil cases are settled. In many instances, it may be in your best interest to resolve your dispute without going to court. The lawyer you hire can advise you when settlement is appropriate, what type of settlement is fair and when litigation is your best option.




So what does the process involve?


SIX STAGES, more or less. First, we investigate your claim thoroughly and, if we take your case and you decide to hire us, file a lawsuit. Second, there is a "discovery" stage where the parties exchange information and documents and take depositions. Yours included. Third, a stage may occur where the court hears various motions before setting your case for trial. Fourth, mediation in civil cases is no longer the exception to the rule, and courts are quick to order it. Fifth, if the case isn't settled by mediation or negotiation, we go to trial. And the sixth stage, if necessary, is the filing of or responding to any appeal.





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