Product Liability Clarified


Product liability encompasses the manufacture, distribution, design and sale of any item that may have led to personal injury or harm to its consumers. Depending on the aspect of a product involved, a case may be made against the manufacturer, distributor, retailer, and/or marketer. Personal injury lawyers specializing in product liability will be able to formulate a strategy appropriate to a particular case. The law regulating product liability is complex, but the following is an overview.

The liability chain

Personal injury cases usually identify a single entity to bring a case against, but not in product liability. Because a product is a result of several factors working together, establishing the chain of liability is necessary to determine if only one part of the chain is responsible, or several or all contributed to the defect or failing that resulted in harm to the end user.

Proving negligence

As most personal injury lawyers know, the burden of proof is on the claimant. To prove negligence, three things have to be established:

  • Foreknowledge of the defendant of a defect or flaw in the product/service
  • Failure of the defendant to properly remedy or correct the defect or flaw
  • The defect or flaw directly caused harm or injury to the plaintiff

However, in product liability cases, the manufacturer is strictly liable. This means that negligence does not have to be proven as long as an injury or harm was proven to have been caused by a product or service. In other words, the manufacturer should know and test the product thoroughly to ensure consumer safety before sending it off.

Product description

Another aspect of product liability which may or may not be based on any actual injury or harm is truth in advertising. The manufacturer has the responsibility to accurately describe the function and performance of a product either as a written warranty or as an implied one so the manner the product was sold is understood.

Product liability cases are best handled by personal injury lawyers to ensure the plaintiff’s rights are not violated. Lawsuits are seldom routine, so a plaintiff could fail in a claim because of a technicality.

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