Products liability is a combination of laws and court rulings that applies to all businesses that make or sell products. Products are the responsibility of businesses that sell them. These businesses could be held responsible for any harm or damage their products may cause.
Section 102(2) of the Uniform Product Liability Act defines product liability as “all claims or actions brought for personal injury or death or property damage due to the manufacture, design formula, preparation, assembly, and installation, testing warnings, instructions marketing, packaging, labeling or marketing of any product.”
Manufacturers and marketers are increasingly concerned about product liability issues due to the widespread adoption of strict liability doctrines and new theories that allow for recovery in “delayed manifestation” cases.
Small businesses have limited resources and must be aware of their product liability laws. This responsibility includes making safe products. It also extends to prominently warning of potential hazards on packaging and products.
Experts recommend small business owners seek out legal counsel who is experienced in product liability. A small business owner can get assistance from an attorney to navigate the many federal and state laws applicable to different products. Products liability insurance is also recommended for small businesses.
Due to the high number of lawsuits filed and the large damages awards, this insurance has become very costly and less affordable. Small manufacturers have been unable to compete in certain product areas due to the high cost of product liability insurance.
The Development of Product Liability Laws
In the mid-1800s, product liability was established when American courts found that sellers of goods had a “duty to use reasonable care” in the production of these goods. Third parties were held responsible for sellers’ negligence in manufacturing or selling goods that were “inherently hazardous“. This means that the danger of injury to people stemmed from the product and not from the defect in it.
It can include food, beverages, drugs, firearms, and explosives. Tort principles were first applied in product liability in the 1960s. The concept of “inherently hazardous” goods was still significant. However, there was a shift towards negligence (tort), which meant that goods producers were required to use “due care” when marketing goods to consumers.
Product liability is a complex topic. Although product liability has changed over time, it is important to know the basics to help you make informed decisions about how to protect your company from product liability lawsuits. This article will provide some definitions and an overview of the types of goods that are “inherently hazardous” according to current law.
Small businesses struggle to protect themselves from product liability
U.S. Congress attempted to pass legislation to protect small businesses from product liability suits. It also sought to reduce the cost of product liability insurance. The Small Business Liability Reform Act of 2002, sponsored by Senators Mitch McConnel (R.KY) & Joseph Lieberman(D.CT), was the latest attempt to move this needle.
The legislation was intended to “limit punitive damages against small businesses, to ensure small business owners are only held responsible for damages proportionally to their actual fault, as well as to reform the existing product liability system.” As of spring 2006, it had not been passed. It was not passed as of Spring 2006. However, no changes have been made.
For a clearer picture, understand product liability
If all of the following elements are present, a product liability case can be deemed negligent.
- The defendant owes the plaintiff a duty to act in a reasonably prudent manner under similar or identical circumstances.
- The defendant has breached such a duty, that is, failed to act reasonably.
- An injury can be personal injury or property damage.
- There is a causal connection between the defendant’s breach and the injuries suffered by the plaintiff.
Every activity that occurs before a product is available on the market is considered negligence. This includes everything, from product design to the testing and inspection of materials, as well as the manufacturing and assembly of the product. It also covers what happens after the product is made available for purchase, packaging, instructions, or warnings about possible dangers.
Think about how customers will interact with your products before they purchase them online or visit your storefront location. Consider all the possible areas that could lead to negligence by your team members or contractors responsible for providing a great customer experience.
Negligence can be caused by omission or commission. Failure to spot a problem is as negligent as creating it. In the same way, a violation of duty is when a warning about the potential dangers of using a product is not provided.
A plaintiff must prove that the defendants did not use ordinary care in order to satisfy the burden of proof. We have covered some common defenses and evidence that manufacturers can use during trials, as well as the various types of evidence and testimony plaintiffs may present.
Even the most common products can pose some risk. The law recognizes this and allows for the design of safer products. Manufacturers are legally required to warn consumers about any known dangers if:
- They fail to warn about known risks
- A warning is too vague for it to be effective
- The user is not notified of the warning
- It is not the duty of a person to warn about misuse that is so uncommon or unpredicted.
Manufacturers face a unique problem when it comes to warning consumers about potential dangers. They must not only give warnings but also communicate them so that anyone can understand and find them.
Sometimes, a warning placed in the instructions of a product may be deemed inadequate. In other cases, a sticker warning of the product may be sufficient.
How to File a Product Defective Product Injury Claim
The most recent development in tort law is strict liability. It has transformed product liability as it eliminates all questions of negligence. Manufacturers are liable for allowing defective products to enter the market.
This is not a matter of unreasonable or negligent conduct on the part of the manufacturer. In questions of liability, flaws and defects that result from inaccessible knowledge are not taken into account. This definition, despite its influence, has not been accepted by all American courts.
It is essential that plaintiffs prove some form of harm. Harm can come in many forms, including financial, emotional, and physical. The plaintiff must then prove that they were hurt by defective products. It is not enough to prove that the product was defective.
The third element is that there must be a defect in the product and not only the packaging. The plaintiff must prove that the defect caused his injuries and not the way he used it. The market safeguards must be ineffective. This means that there must be an alternative to the products on the market in order for a case can proceed.
Product defects are a hotly debated topic. One is whether strict liability should apply to products that are “strictly” or “inherently dangerous”, such as automobiles. According to the Model Penal Code, if a risk exists, the user is responsible for any injuries caused by it.
Although most courts have adopted the Model Penal Code rule, there are still some states that require negligence or wanton misconduct to impose liability. The issue of strict liability for inherently dangerous products has been a subject of controversy and will continue to be, especially with regard to adults users and sellers as well as children.
This area of law is very fact-specific, so there isn’t much guidance. Product defect cases generally fall under one of two categories: strict liability or negligence. Manufacturers have the option of defending against damages that could reduce or eliminate any amount awarded by a court. This defense is most commonly used. It states that any injury caused by the plaintiff’s use of the product was not due to any defect in it.
Another defense is built on the concept of state of art. Manufacturers should only be responsible for the information they have at the time of manufacturing. In determining liability, flaws and defects that result from inaccessible knowledge cannot be considered. This defense is difficult to interpret because of the variations in knowledge and their applications throughout the country.
Product defects can be complicated. It is important to research all possible factors that could impact the outcome of a case for liability. Contact an experienced attorney today if you believe you have been hurt by a defective product. They will examine your case and recommend the next steps.