What Must a Claimant in a Product Liability Suit Prove?
Every year in North America alone, thousands of injuries occur due to defective or dangerous products. Because of this, there exists a ‘Product Liability Law,’ which is a set of rules concerning who may be held accountable for a defective product, should somebody find themselves hurt. The rules are unique to ‘Product Liability Law’ and differ massively from ordinary personal injury law – thereby making it far easier for somebody injured to get money for damages caused. The term product liability refers to the manufacturer or seller of the product being held liable for allowing a product deemed to be defective or dangerous into the public and hands of customers. When a defect occurs, responsibility ordinarily lies with the sellers of the product, who are a component of a much wider chain of distribution.
In the United States, product liability claims are ordinarily based on state law, as there is no more comprehensive federal product liability law. Commercial statutes in each state will be based around UCC (Uniform Commercial Code), which contains warranty rules affecting the product liability. This page will tell you what a claimant in a product liability suit must prove, who may be responsible, and everything else there is to know about product liability and product liability lawsuits. Continue reading to find out more.
Contact an Attorney
Product liability cases are very complex and demanding for a person without formal legal training to understand. It is because of this that they are best left to attorneys. Should you have found yourself injured as a consequence of a defective or faulty product, then you must contact an attorney to launch a product liability lawsuit against the party responsible. The specialist personal injury attorneys from www.brookslawgroup.com explain that an attorney should fight for your compensation and help you to receive justice for your injuries. Attempting to maneuver through a product liability case on your own will be virtually impossible, so rather than going at it on your own, contact a professional attorney.
Who is Responsible?
Part of the product liability lawsuit will be determining who the responsible party is. This will be something your attorney will handle for you. A product liability case can only arise after a defective product has been sold on a marketplace. Years ago, a contractual relationship (privity of contract) had to exist between a person who had been injured and a product seller or manufacturer for the person injured to gain compensation. That is a requirement that no longer exists, and the injured person does not need to be the person who purchased the product in order to receive compensation. Any person who has been injured or could have been injured can now claim compensation, as long as the product was sold to someone.
The party liable for a defective product could lie with any party who was involved in the chain of distribution, some of these could be:
- The product’s original manufacturer
- The wholesaler or the retailer that sold the product directly to the consumer
- Component manufacturers (warehouses and workshops)
- Assemblers who put the product together
The liability applies only when the product was sold through the course of the supplier’s day-to-day business. Someone who sells a product online or as an independent reseller would be unlikely to be held liable.
What Must You Prove
Many different potential defects may arise in a product. In a product liability case, your attorney must prove that the product, whatever the injury may be, caused an injury, and was defective and dangerous. The defect must be unreasonably dangerous. Here are a few common defects that could cause harm and may be a reason the manufacturer or supplier is held liable:
- Marketing defects — Marketing defects occur when there are flaws in the way a product has been marketed, or if the product has been misrepresented through improper labeling, inadequate safety warnings, and poor and insufficient instructions;
- Manufacturing Defects — Manufacturing defects occur in the course of the product’s manufacturing or assembly, and this would mean that the manufacturer or the team who assembled it will be held accountable;
- Design Defects — A design defect is a defect present in the product from the very beginning before it was manufactured, and before it was created. This is a product that was unsafe from the very beginning.
Res Ipsa Loquitur
Res ipsa loquitur is a Latin term that shifts the burden of proof onto the defendant in a case of product liability. The term, when translated, means, ‘the thing speaks for itself.’ If this can be proven, it indicates that the defect would not have existed if a person were not negligent, to begin with. If this is successfully invoked, your attorney will no longer need to prove the defendant was negligent, and instead, will have to prove that you were not negligent.
An example of this would be if a bottle of bleach had no safety labels and you drank it – we all know bleach is toxic, and you would have to be negligent to consume it or not of sound mind. Res ipsa loquitur can often put a proverbial spanner in the works of many product liability cases, and it will usually be something invoked by the defendant’s attorneys in an attempt to cast doubt on the party accusing them of having sold a defective product.
Some products you cannot claim are defective or dangerous, as it is the very nature of some products that they are unsafe. For example, as mentioned previously, bleach is hazardous, as are kitchen knives. It would be very difficult, nearly impossible, to claim that any of these products were dangerous and you should receive compensation unless, of course, something unexpected happened, such as the blade broke or the bleach bottle leaked all over you. Your attorney will decide whether or not, from the outset, if the product you are claiming is defective really is so.
Now, with the help of this page, you know everything that there is to know about a product liability lawsuit. You will likely never have to encounter one, and hopefully, you do not. Product liability cases can be very stressful and drawn out – more so on the party injured as a consequence of the defective product.