What is product liability?
A party who makes a product available to the public has a duty to make sure the product is reasonably safe for its intended purpose and may be legally liable for injuries caused by that product if this standard is not met. This type of legal liability is referred to as product liability. Parties who may be held responsible for product liability claims include manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, and retailers.
How do products cause injury?
Injuries that lead to product liability are generally the result of a manufacturing defect, design defect, or failure to warn.
A manufacturing defect occurs as a result of a deviation from the normal manufacturing process. This may be brought on by poor workmanship or the use of low-grade materials. Examples of manufacturing defects include: a car with a faulty brake system, a soft drink that has a rodent sealed in the container, or a swing set that has a cracked chain.
When an entire product line poses a safety risk when used for its intended purpose regardless of how carefully the product is manufactured, the defect is the result of a flaw in the product design. An example of a design defect is a children’s toy that presents a choking hazard because it contains small parts.
In some instances, products carry an inherent danger that is known to the manufacturer, but cannot be avoided without compromising the product’s functionality. An example of such a product is gasoline. In this instance, a manufacturer may be liable for injuries that result from their failure to warn consumers about the known dangers associated with their product.
What is the legal basis for bringing product liability lawsuits?
Product liability lawsuits are typically based on the following legal theories: negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty.
A negligence claim requires the plaintiff to prove that the manufacturer had a duty to make sure the product at issue was reasonably safe, that they breached said duty, and that the plaintiff was injured because of the manufacturer’s acts or omissions.
Because proving that a product was not reasonably safe and caused the plaintiff’s injuries is difficult and can place an undue burden on the injured party, beginning in the 1940s and 1950s, states began passing laws which made manufacturers strictly liable to parties injured by their products. In Georgia, the manufacturer of a defective product is strictly liable for the injuries caused by that product. This means that the court will not look into whether the manufacturer took reasonable steps to make the product safe.
In addition, a manufacturer or seller may be liable for breaching warranties that came with the product that caused injury. The warranty may be an express warranty, based on specific statements made about the product, or an implied warrant, based on the public’s general expectation regarding the product.
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a product defect, you should contact an attorney immediately. An experienced product liability lawyer can review the circumstances of your case and determine whether you have a viable product liability claim