Product Liability Law - A Quick Guide

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Those who make products available to the public are responsible for injuries products cause. This falls under the area of law called product liability law; traditionally limited to products in the form of tangible personal property. In the United States, the claims most commonly associated with product liability are negligence, failure to warn, strict liability, breach of warranty, and consumer protection claims.

Strict Liability

This is liability for damages because of an unsafe product. In this case the court only examines the product and not if the manufacturer took all precautions to make sure the product was safe for use. I consider it the simplest form of liability case since all you need to do is prove the product was faulty and this defect led to the injury.

Some states have liability laws to protect other parties along the supply chain from fraudulent claims. As a result, the plaintiff besides establishing strict liability must also prove negligence by the manufacturer.


One of the areas a plaintiff can establish a liability case in is negligence. This is the failure by the manufacturer to ensure the product does not injure or harm the intended user. Many cases involve the manufacturer's failure to provide ordinary care which is ensuring the product is of sound design, has no manufacturing defects, and has passed an inspection.

While establishing a case of negligence one must clearly show the manufacturer not only failed to provide ordinary care, but one must also prove that you and I as the consumers are owed such care by them.

Manufacturing Defects

According to the law in most states, manufacturers are not liable for any product related accidents or injuries unless the product has a defect that can be traced back to the manufacturing process. There are two categories of product defects - manufacturing defects and design defects.

Manufacturing defects arise if the product deviates from its set specifications, fails to meet the performance standards or is in any way different from similar products in the product line.

Design defects occur when the design makes the products unreasonably hazardous. During product design, the manufacturer is required to ensure the final product can fulfill its purpose without causing danger to the end users.

Failure to warn

This liability arises when the manufacturer fails to provide labels, instructions for use and relevant warnings for using the product. I must say that this would usually apply where the risk of the product is well-known. The product manufacturer must not only prove that they gave warning but the warning was adequate.

Breach of Warranty

Warranties are contracts made to the buyer by the seller concerning the quality, number, type and performance of a certain product. There are two types of warranties according to law - express warranty and implied warranty. The former can be a tacit agreement or it can be because of the products advertising or design specifications at the point of sale. The latter however is assumed to exist unless a claim is made to the contrary.

Breach of warranty can be argued when there is a violation of the written or implied warranty. It is also argued if the plaintiff can prove the product was substandard or did not satisfy the requirements to enable it perform its labeled task.

What to do if you have an injury.