Types of Products Liability Claims

There are four possible types of products liability claims, they are  (1) strict products liability, (2) negligence, (3) implied warranties, and (4) express warranties/misrepresentation.

To prevail in strict products liability claim, a plaintiff has to show:  (1) strict duty owed by a commercial supplier, (2) breach of that duty, (3) actual and proximate cause, and (4) damages.  A commercial supplier is a manufacturer or distributor of a product, not a casual seller.

A commercial supplier has a duty to supply safe products.  For liability to attach, a product must reach a plaintiff without substantial alteration.  Privity between a commercial supplier and a plaintiff is not required.  This means users, consumers, and bystanders can sue a commercial supplier.

To establish a breach of duty, a plaintiff must show a product is defective when it leaves a commercial supplier’s control.  There are three types of defects: (1) manufacturing, (2) design, and (3) inadequate warning.

A design defect occurs when all the products leave the plant in the same condition and there is a defect in the design of the product. There may be two types of tests:  (1) feasible alternative test, (2) consumer expectation test.  The feasible alternative test compares the design of the product with other reasonable alternatives available in the market. The test balances the availability of alternatives and the cost against the risk to users and the value of lives saved. The consumer expectation test is applied in a minority of jurisdictions in the US.  It is met if the product leaves the manufacturer in a condition more dangerous than the average consumer reasonably expected.

A product may be defective as a result of the manufacturer’s failure to give adequate warnings as to the risks involved in using the product.  For liability to attach, the danger must not be apparent to users.

For a manufacturing defect, a defendant will be liable if a plaintiff establishes a product fails to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect.  The defendant must anticipate reasonable product misuse.

Causation is the connection between the plaintiff’s injuries and the defendant’s conduct.  To prove actual cause, the plaintiff must trace the harm suffered to a defect in the product that existed when it left the defendant’s control. A defendant is legally responsible for foreseeable injuries created by defendant’s unreasonable conduct.

If you have been a victim of a defective product and wish to file a personal injury claim contact us, Solnick & Associates, for a free consultation.