Understanding the Basics of Product Liability

Understanding the Basics of Product Liability

The area of law that affects merchants, manufacturers and distributors is product liability. Keep in mind that the word product covers a broad spectrum of items. However, it can be summed up as anything that is tangible personal property. Buying a tree from a gardening company would constitute receiving a product, but ordering mowing services would not be considered a product since the mowing services are not something the buyer can receive and retain.

Types Of Claims
In the United States, there are several common claims. These include strict liability, negligence, various consumer protection claims and warranty breaches. Most laws for product liability are decided at a state level, and such laws vary from one state to the next. Different elements must be proven for each type of product liability. There are three major types of claims, which include design defect, manufacturing defect and a failure to warn. Such offenses are pleaded in terms of theories instead of formal legal claims. It is important to understand the difference between the three classifications.

Design defects occur when the design of the product is dangerous or useless. In such a case, the risks of the product should outweigh the benefits. For example, a product that does not work as promised or has a design that contributes to danger could be considered a design defect. Manufacturing defects occur when poor workmanship or materials are used during the manufacturing process. Failure to warn can be cited when products that carry inconspicuous dangers are not properly marked with warning labels or instructions for care. These must be dangers that are present regardless of the manufacturing quality.

Breach Of Warranty
Warranty breaches are also important to consider. A warranty is a statement made during a transaction from a manufacturer about a specific product. In order for claims to be handled properly, they must be directly between the manufacturer and buyer. If a breach of warranty is issued for a product liability case, it will usually be classified as a breach of an implied warranty, a breach of an express warranty or a breach of an implied warranty of fitness. Claims for real estate may also include implied warranties of habitability. Express warranty claims focus on statements made by the manufacturer. For example, a manufacturer stating that a product will last 25 years would be in trouble for a product that breaks after two months. Implied warranties relate to what is known about a product. For example, everyone knows a hammer is for hammering. If the top of a hammer that was being used properly broke and flew into a person’s face, the manufacturer would face an implied warranty issue.

Strict Liability
Strict liability focuses on the product itself instead of the manufacturer. Under this type of charge, the manufacturer is liable if the product is defective whether or not there was negligence in the manufacturing process. The main difficulty plaintiffs face with this charge is that they must prove the manufacturer’s conduct was below a specific standard. If a particular industry has fairly uniform but careless standards, the injured plaintiff may not stand a chance.

This type of claim consists of a breach of an owed duty. The cause of the plaintiff’s injury must be due to the breach of the owed duty. In such cases, injured individuals must suffer quantifiable injuries. In recent years, negligence concepts have broadened to accommodate certain situations. This includes negligence per se and res ipsa loquitur.

In addition to these three claims, many states have developed consumer protection statutes. These statutes provide remedies for various product defects. They are usually offered for defects that make products unusable, which results in economic injuries to buyers. One good example is a lemon law. This type of law protects people who buy automobiles in good faith only to find that they have substantial problems. It is important for anyone who sells or manufacturers products to have good product liability insurance to cover these points. Each company must decide how much coverage to purchase. To learn about the best options for a specific company and how much insurance costs, discuss these issues with an agent.