What Product Liability Means to Your Potential Lawsuit

By | December 19, 2011

We’ve all heard the stories in the news: a product has failed, and someone who was hurt or injured as a result of that failure is filing a lawsuit. It might seem like an unlikely scenario – at least, until product liability becomes a major part of your life.

The truth is, product liability is a major factor in a lot of lawsuits, including many notable ones that make your local newspaper’s business section. But if you’re struggling as a result of product failure and you’re considering filing a lawsuit, nothing can seem more personal. That’s why it’s time to learn more about product liability and what it might mean for your situation.

Learning About the Potential Failures of Products

The first thing that you need to do is understand what product liability really means. For example, getting lung cancer after years of smoking a particular brand of cigarette won’t make the cigarette manufacturer liable – after all, they put a warning right on the box. There are a few ways manufacturers can earn or avoid product liability when something goes wrong. They include:

  • Manufacturing defects – typically, the customer has nothing to do with this type of liability, which places much of the responsibility on the manufacturer themselves. Since they’re selling a product you should reasonably assume will work, when it fails because of faulty manufacturing, you’re probably not liable.
  • Design defects – When a design flaw ruins an entire product, the question of liability becomes more nuanced. Usually, however, the manufacturer is still responsible somewhat for customer safety and will be expected to correct these flaws.
  • Marketing defects – also known as a failure to warn, these defects might not be inherent in the product itself (as is the case in cigarettes), but if potential safety hazards aren’t spelled out for the customer, it could be perceived as a defect in marketing.

Learning more about the liability problems in your specific case will first mean that you need to examine which type of defect you’re looking at. If a problem exists in a product and was warned to you, then there’s little chance your lawsuit will hold up in court. But if the defect is truly the fault of the manufacturer, the story changes.

When Are You At Fault?

In the three cases above, we’ve looked at potential ways a product’s failure may be the cause of the manufacturer. In other words, they are liable for those damages. But there are times where you, the consumer and/or customer, may be at fault.

For example, consider when a product has no apparent manufacturing or design flaws. Functioning cigarettes might be an example, or perhaps a swing set. If these were used properly and the manufacturer warned you about the risks involved with using their product, there’s a good chance that any potential liability will fall on you, not the manufacturer.

Understanding liability is a great start into understanding your specific case against a manufacturer. Try to keep your own case in mind as you complete your research into this area, and you’ll quickly learn where your case may stand.

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