Faulty products are the cause of harm to thousands of Americans every year. Product liability law exists to protect people and help the injured persons to recover damages. By definition, product liability law is a set of legal rules concerning who is responsible for defective and dangerous products. Product liability itself refers to a manufacturer or seller being held responsible for placing a defective product into the hands of a consumer. A product must meet the ordinary expectations of the consumer, but when the product has an unexpected defect or danger, it cannot be said to meet that expectation.
Product liability laws vary from state to state, as there is no federal product liability law. If you are injured by a defective product, under strict liability you do not need to prove that a manufacturer was negligent, only that the product was defective. Product liability claims are based on state laws and are often brought under the theories of negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty.
An important part of product liability is that the product must have been sold in a marketplace at some point. As long as the product was sold to someone, any person who could have been injured by a defective product can recover for their injuries. Although historically there existed a contractual relationship between the injured person and the supplier of the product in order for the injured person to recover, that requirement no longer exists in most states. In other words, the injured person does not have to be the purchaser of the product in order to recover. The liability for a product defect can rest with any party in the product’s chain of distribution, from the manufacturer, the manufacturer of component parts, all the way to the retail store that sold the product.
Product defects can be divided into three categories: design defects, manufacturing defects, and marketing defects. Design defects are present in a product even before manufacturing, in that the design of the product is inherently unsafe. Manufacturing defects occur during the product’s manufacturing or assembly. Marketing defects refer to flaws in the way the product is marketed, which can include improper labeling, insufficient instructions, or inadequate safety warnings.