Product Liability Law
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed June 20, 2016
Product liability law provides the victims of dangerous products with legal recourse for any injuries suffered. Generally, a product is required to meet the ordinary expectations of a consumer. A product that has an unexpected defect or danger does not meet consumers' ordinary expectations. A number of different parties may be held liable for any injuries that result from the use of a defective product. For example, if a flaw in the manufacturing process creates a dangerous defect, the manufacturer may be held liable. This section includes a number of resources on design defects, manufacturing defects, defects in warning, and product liability law in general. Please select from the links below to get started.
Types of Product Liability Defects
If someone is injured by a defective product, there are three types of product liability claims that may apply to their case:
- Manufacturing defects
- Design defects
- Marketing defects (manufacturer fails to provide adequate warnings or instructions regarding how to properly use the product)
Knowing the basics of these three product liability claims will help an injured person determine if they have a valid case.
In defective product cases, the plaintiff doesn't need circumstantial evidence to prove the manufacturer was negligent. The plaintiff only has to prove she was injured, and identify the defect which caused her injuries. To identify a product's defect, the victim (and her attorney) may have to go through an intense pre-trial discovery process.
Some product liability cases are exempt from the difficult and expensive pre-trial discovery process. In Res Ipsa Loquitur (or "res ips") cases, the plaintiff doesn't have to prove the product defect exists. Res Ipsa Loquitor is Latin for, "the thing speaks for itself." It means that the product defect is so clearly obvious, having to prove its existence is not legally required.
Products Liability and Guns
If a gun was negligently manufactured and resulted in harm upon use, the manufacturer can be held liable. Unlike some products, defective firearms and explosives do not make a manufacturer strictly liable for resulting injuries. In order for an injured person to recover, a plaintiff suing for damages resulting from a licensed firearm must show that:
- The manufacturer failed to exercise reasonable care in producing the firearm or explosive
- The manufacturer failed to comply with statutes and regulations
- The malfunction was the proximate or actual cause of the plaintiffs injury, and
- The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the malfunction
The manufacturers of explosives are held to a higher standard of care than wholesalers and sellers of the weapons.
Settling Products Liability Claims
Whether it's better to settle a product liability lawsuit or go to trial depends on the circumstances surrounding your case and what you hope to get out of your claim. Therefore, it is imperative that you carefully consider every aspect of your unique situation to determine if the offered settlement is adequate. You should know some of the elements to be considered when contemplating a settlement, including identifying all possible responsible parties, what damages you will have to prove in court should your case go to trial, whether or not subrogation is a factor, and if you may want to consider a structured settlement or a partial settlement with a reservation of rights.
How a Products Liability Attorney Can Help
An experienced products liability attorney can help guide you through the negotiation and settlement process. Your attorney can help you determine your damages, secure evidence of your losses, and advise you on different settlement options. To get started, at absolutely no charge, have an experienced products liability lawyer evaluate your claim today.
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