Product liability is one of the most important divisions of tort law. In product liability law, a consumer is protected against sellers and manufacturers of defective products by being allowed to file lawsuits against parties in all stages of the supply chain. In understanding product liability, a consumer can be better informed of their rights granted under local, state, and federal statutes.
To have a firm grasp of product liability, one must first understand when the law can be applied to a specific case of negligence or harm. As previously stated, product liability applies to sellers and manufacturers at all stages of the supply chain. Therefore, not only can the manufacturer and the seller be held liable for damages, but the manufacturer of the product’s components and any party that assembled the product as well. A lawyer analyzing a product liability case would also have to make sure that the incident adheres to strict liability parameters. In strict liability, a product would have to be sold in the regular supply chain. As such, products bought on the secondary market would not be subject to strict liability laws. An example of a product liability case might be a consumer seeking damages for injuries brought about by a defective car part.
When bringing about a product liability case, an attorney would have to make sure that it fits the legal definition of negligence and adheres to strict liability. To prove that the defendant acted negligently, the plaintiff would further have to prove that a contractual relationship existed between the two. This doctrine is known as privity of contract and also requires some type of injury to have been sustained by the plaintiff. Additionally, an attorney would have to be able to prove that the defendant manufactured and sold a defective product.
Generally, there are three main areas of defects covered under product liability. Design defects are rooted in the initial concept of the product and are present before the beginning of the manufacturing process. Manufacturing defects present themselves during the construction of the product. Marketing defects is an umbrella term that includes a variety of errors in how the product is presented to the consumer. Overly vague instructions and lack of safety warnings are prime examples of marketing defects.