Saturday, February 2, 2019

What is Product Liability? - Personal Injury Legal Blogs Posted by Brian Allen Wall, Jr. - Blog

It is bad when products we buy disappoint us. It is much worse when they hurt us, or worse, put us in the hospital. There is a major part of personal injury law devoted to this problem: products liability.

When a defective product causes harm to the user, products liability law can be invoked. In products liability, the injured party looks for compensation from the party that manufactured, distributed, or sold the defective product.

Products liability law is broad, including three classes. The three classes, as well as examples of each, are as follows:

Manufacturing Defects
Manufacturing defects are those that occur in the manufacturing process, for any reason, including low quality materials and poor workmanship. Some examples:

A nail gun that blows apart mid-use
Hamburger that is tainted with E coli that sickens family members
A new tire with blows out after only 35 miles
A flashlight that suddenly becomes so hot, it burns you
Design Defects
Design defects are defects that occur when the product is designed badly, and thus are dangerous even when manufactured properly. Some examples:

An SUV that rolls over at normal speeds, or on curves that most vehicles can handle
Kids’ toys that cause serious injuries, and may feature sharp objects, swallowable parts, or toxic coatings
A ladder that collapses the first time it is used
An artificial hip that releases toxic metals into the body
Failure to Warn
Failure-to-warn defects occur when the danger of their use is not adequately explained to users. Some examples:

An airbag that does not warn passengers of situations when it may cause harm
A toxic chemical whose container does not warn of dangers
Drug or medical device side-effects that are not properly publicized
Warnings that are so vague as to be useless
Products Liability vs Personal Liability
Products liability is quite different from personal liability for a traffic accident. Car accidents can be simpler. A lawyer need only prove that Car A ran a light and struck Car B.

To succeed in a products liability case, the lawyer must conduct research into the company responsible for the injury and identify the problem. Determining just which entity is liable, and potentially taking a major corporation to court requires a broader scope.

Strict products liability is an important concept in these cases. It holds that a seller, distributor, or manufacturer of a defective product is liable to the injured party. This is true even when the defendant failed to do everything to use the product safely.

Products liability law is state law, although all states, including Pennsylvania, use the Uniform Commercial Code as a basis.

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