When consumers suffer injury as a result of reasonable use of a product, there can be a number of parties held liable for the release of that product. The key is to show those entities or individuals knew or should have known the product posed some risk to users.
Types of defective product cases run the gamut. Any product that is defectively-designed, defectively-manufactured or where those in the chain of distribution failed to warn of a danger can be the subject of this subset of personal injury lawsuits.
Some examples of the most common product liability cases include:
- Defective Vehicles
- Defective Toys
- Defective Child Products
- Defective Medical Products and Devices
- Defective Pharmaceuticals
- Asbestos Products
- Defective Firearms
- Defective Cosmetics
- Dangerous Chemicals
- Defective Machines and Tools
- Defective Recreational Products (i.e., roller coasters, pool toys, etc.)
This is not an exhaustive list. The fact is, there is the potential for almost every product on the market to pose a potential threat. It depends on the degree of care exercised by those within the chain of distribution, and whether companies notified customers of known perils.
Our Southern California law firm has a successful history of litigating product liability lawsuits and helping clients recover from their losses.
THEORIES OF LIABILITY
In general, if someone is injured by a defective product, claims are generally asserted under three theories:
- Strict Products Liability
- Breach of Warranty
All three theories can be pled in the alternative, and in some situations, claims for fraud and deceit can be asserted too.
Per the precedent set by the 1963 California Supreme Court case of Greenman v. Yuba Power Products, manufacturers – which include suppliers and sellers – may be strictly liable when a product is placed on the market with an understanding that it is supposed to be safe, and yet proves to have a defect that causes injury to someone.
In order to prove strict liability in California, one must show:
- Product was used in intended or reasonably foreseeable manner;
- Product was in defective condition when it left defendant’s possession;
- Product defect was the legal cause of plaintiff’s injuries or damages.
In general, strict products liability applies to all products sold to the public, and that includes industrial machinery, chemicals, medical devices, consumer goods and weapons. Potential defendants in these cases may include manufacturers, wholesalers or distributors, bailors, lessors, developers, licensors, franchisers, vendors and employers.
Within this concept of strict liability, there are a number of Types of Defect. These include: Design Defect, Manufacturing Defect and Inadequate Warning.
A design defect means the product was not safe the way it was designed. The California Supreme Court set forth the test for establishing design defect in the 1978 case of Barker v. Lull Engineering Co. In order for a product to be deemed defectively designed per this precedent, it must meet the requirements of either the Consumer Expectation Test or the Risk/Benefit Test.
The Consumer Expectation Test holds that a product failed to perform safely as an ordinary consumer would expect it would when used the way it was intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner.
The Risk/Benefit Test holds that the risk of harm created by defendant’s defective design outweighs any benefit the product may have. In that situation, once a plaintiff has proven causation, the burden of proof then shifts to the defendant to prove the benefits of the design outweigh the risks.
This is when a particular product unit deviates from the intended result of the manufacturer or other seemingly identical units of the same line of products. So in other words, the product was not poorly designed, but there was some error in the manufacture process that rendered that particular item defective and dangerous.
This is when a product could be safely used, but the manufacturer or supplier failed to include adequate warning of a known risk or risks that in turn created an unreasonable risk to the consumer.
Here, it’s essential for plaintiff to prove:
- The product has a potential risk that was known or knowable in light of generally-accepted scientific or medical knowledge.
- The risk presented a substantial danger when the product was used intentionally or in a reasonably foreseeable way.
- An ordinary consumer wouldn’t have recognized this risk.
- Manufacturer/supplier didn’t adequately warn or instruct consumers regarding this risk.
In a negligence action stemming from a product liability injury, a plaintiff has to prove all the necessary elements of a negligence case. That includes:
- Defendant owed a duty of care to plaintiff;
- Defendant breached that duty;
- That breach caused injury to plaintiff;
- Plaintiff suffered compensable damages as a result of that injury.
In general, manufacturers and sellers aren’t required to make and sell products that are accident-proof, but they do have to make sure the products are reasonably safe when they’re used as intended. Liability can be imposed on a defendant when the product is dangerous, was not carefully manufactured and some injury results form that failure.
This might include actions like:
- Failure to sufficiently test or inspect a product;
- Releasing a product too hastily;
- Not anticipating all plausible uses for the product that could be dangerous.
In some cases, if it can be shown defendant violated some statute, ordinance or regulation, there is a presumption that defendant failed to exercise due care.
BREACH OF WARRANTY
There are two basic types of warranty that are issued when a product is made and sold to the public. Those are express warranties and implied warranties.
An express warranty is when the seller expressly makes a promise or affirmation of fact that indicating the product is going to conform to certain standards. When it does not, this is known as a breach of express warranty.
Meanwhile, an implied warranty is one that is implied in every contract for sale of goods. This means that the products are of an acceptable quality and fit for use within their ordinary purpose. When that is not the case, it is a breach of implied warranty.
Products liability is a complex area of law, and not every law firm is qualified to handle these cases. If you have been injured as a result of a defective product, our experienced, compassionate products liability attorneys are available to answer your questions.
Contact the injury lawyers at Fakhimi & Associates, Trial Attorneys, by calling 714-705-6701 or 909-859-0280. Serving the Southern California counties of Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside.
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