A manufacturer has a crucial responsibility to its consumers. That’s to ensure that every product they bring to the table is safe for everyone.
But what would happen if an item injures or causes damage to someone?
If a defective product harms a consumer, the latter may have the right to be compensated for all the damages they sustained. It includes lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical expenses.
However, claiming compensation due to product liability is a complicated issue. It often requires detailed proof to support your claims. If you need further help, visit a trusted legal firm like hopkinsroden.com, among others, to get all the guidance and legal representation you need.
In the meantime, what do you need to support your claims?
Below are the elements you must prove to make your liability claims successful.
What Is A Product Liability Claim?
A product liability claim refers to a legal action taken by an individual or a group of individuals against the manufacturer, distributor, or seller of a defective product. It’s a personal injury claim seeking compensation for injuries, damages, or losses from using or coming into contact with such a product.
Product liability laws vary from country to country. Regardless, they aim to hold manufacturers and other parties responsible for any harm caused by what they make and distribute.
Product liability claims can be complex and require expert analysis and testimony to establish the defect and its causal relationship to the injuries. It’s best to consult a lawyer specializing in this field to evaluate the case, gather evidence, and navigate the legal process.
What Are The Elements Of A Product Liability Claim?
Product liability claims play a crucial role in protecting consumer rights and damages caused by faulty, defective, or dangerous products. For a claim to be successful, certain essential elements must be present and proven in court.
Here are the critical elements of a product liability claim:
- Defective Product
The presence of a defective product is the first and foremost element of a product liability claim. It’s crucial to prove the existence of the defect; otherwise, the court will dismiss the claim.
There are typically three types of defects that form the basis of a product liability claim:
- Manufacturing Defect
This occurs when an error or flaw in the manufacturing process makes the product different from its intended design or specifications. It means this particular one is defective among others of the same kind.
- Design Defect
In this case, the entire product line may have a flaw in its design, making it inherently prone to causing harm when used as intended. Even if it was perfectly manufactured, the design is deemed defective.
Some products carry dangers that are crucial to how they’re used. For example, a knife has a sharp blade; thus, getting wounded by it may not hold its manufacturer liable since the risk is obvious.
Others carry risks deemed the lesser of two evils (e.g., an airbag). Victims may claim that there are safer alternatives that wouldn’t cause the same unfortunate scenario brought by that particular product.
- Failure To Warn
A product may be considered defective if it fails to include instructions for proper use. If the risks associated with the product aren’t appropriately stated, the product manufacturer, distributor, or seller may be held liable.
Regardless of the defect’s nature, it must be proven as the direct cause of your injuries and losses.
Causation is a critical element that establishes a direct link between the defective product and the victim’s damages. The victim must prove that the defect was the primary cause of the harm and that the injuries would not have occurred without the defect.
Sometimes, the harm caused by the defective product is evident. However, some complicating factors might be at play (e.g., carelessness contributing to the accident).
Furthermore, you must show that the defect has caused physical injuries and incurred monetary losses. You might be required to submit evidence to support your claims, including medical bills, witness testimony, and certification of lost wages.
- Breach Of Warranty
Warranties are assurances given to consumers that a product will meet specific standards and perform as expected. When a product falls short of those assurances, it constitutes a breach of warranty.
That, in turn, refers to a failure by a seller or manufacturer to fulfill the promises or guarantees made regarding the quality, performance, or condition of a product.
Generally, there are two types of warranties that can be breached: express and implied.
- Express Warranty
An express warranty is a promise or representation made by the seller or manufacturer about the product. It can be made orally, in writing, or even through advertising and promotional materials.
For example, if a car manufacturer states in its advertisement that a particular model has a fuel efficiency of 30 miles per gallon, but the actual efficiency is only 20 miles per gallon, it would be a breach of the express warranty.
- Implied Warranty
Implied warranties are unspoken, unwritten promises that the law considers part of the transaction when a product is sold. There are two main types of implied warranties:
- Implied warranty of merchantability: This warranty is an implicit promise that the product fits its purpose. For example, if a consumer purchases a toaster and it fails to function properly, it’d be a failure of the implied warranty of merchantability.
- Implied warranty of fitness: The seller directly warrants that the product suits a particular purpose. If the product fails to meet the buyer’s specific requirements, it’d be a breach.
Product liability claims may include allegations of a breach of warranty along with other defects or negligence. Consulting with an attorney specializing in product liability can help you understand your rights, check if the warranty failure holds water according to any of the mentioned terms, and pursue appropriate legal action.
- Intended Use
Intended use is another critical element of a product liability claim. To ensure your claims are legitimate and valid, you should be able to prove that you used the product as intended by the manufacturer.
If an injury or damage occurs while using a product as the manufacturer intended, the company may be liable to compensate the victim for the damages they’ve suffered. It’s because it’s their responsibility to foresee potential injuries.
However, if an injury occurs while using a product in a way not intended by the manufacturer, the company may not be liable. Why? Because there’s no way for them to predict or foresee the likelihood of an injury or damage.
For example, suppose a child allows his friend to ride on his bike’s handlebars. As you know, handlebars are used to steer a bike, not to hold riders. The case won’t be accepted if the handlebars break and inevitably injure one of the kids.
- Breach Of Duty
A breach of duty occurs when a manufacturer, distributor, or seller fails to fulfill their obligations to ensure their products are safe and defect-free.
To establish a breach of duty, you must prove the following aspects:
- Duty Of Care
Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers owe a duty of care to the consumer. This implies they are legally obligated to ensure the product is safe for its intended use and free from any defects that could cause harm.
- Standard Of Care
The victim must prove that the manufacturer didn’t meet the standard of care expected in the industry. It involves showing that the actions fell below the level of care that a reasonable manufacturer, distributor, or seller would have exercised under similar circumstances.
Breach of duty is often based on negligence. It requires proving that the manufacturer failed to act with reasonable care in the product’s design, manufacture, or distribution.
Negligence may include errors in the manufacturing process, inadequate quality control, or failure to provide sufficient warnings or instructions for safe product usage.
Establishing this is crucial in a product liability claim. It strengthens your case and increases the likelihood of obtaining compensation for injuries, damages, or losses caused by the defective product.
- Damages Suffered
Saying that all sorts of dreadful things almost happened to you isn’t enough. Without actual damages or injuries, you lack a crucial element to support and make your product liability claims succeed.
For example, suppose you have a new, expensive microwave oven with a hairline crack underneath its rotating surface. When you use it for the first time, it explodes.
The sudden bang causes you to jump out of the way to avoid getting hurt. However, you accidentally knock down an antique Chinese figurine, which happens to be the most valuable item in your home. Surprisingly, it survives the fall, not having a single crack or scratch.
The defective microwave oven may have almost caused severe physical injuries and the destruction of your precious artifact. But that provides no grounds for you to press charges to the manufacturer. Basically, you have no claims without evidence of an actual injury or monetary loss caused by the product itself.
Know What You Deserve
A product liability claim protects the rights of consumers from damage caused by faulty or dangerous products. Pursuing such claims requires establishing defects, breach of duty of care and warranty, damages and injuries, causation, and intended use.
Understanding and presenting these elements logically can significantly enhance the success of your product liability claim. If you believe you have been harmed by a defective product, consulting an experienced attorney will help guide you through the legal process and ensure your rights are protected.