Products liability refers to injuries caused to consumers by dangerous or defective products. It may also refer to injuries caused to workers from dangerous or defective machinery. Manufacturers of products or machinery are held responsible for any damage caused by the products that they sell and place into the stream of commerce. There are three ways that a company can be held responsible for defective product.
1) Negligence - In order to prove that the manufacturer was negligent, the person who was injured must show that the product manufacturer had a duty to the customer. This is relatively easy since anyone selling products to the public has a duty not to injure them. The injured person also has to prove that the manufacturer breached the duty to make a safe product. This is proven by showing that the manufacturer knew that the product was dangerous or should have known that the product was dangerous. Lastly, there must be a injury from the breach of the failure to make the product safe.
2) Strict Product Liability - Strict product liability occurs when it is shown that the product is defective when it left the manufacturer's control. There is no need to prove negligence in these cases.
3) Breach of Warranty - In breach of warranty cases, the product must be shown to cause an injury because of a failure of something that the manufacturer warranted or represented to be true. It can be a representation that the product was safe to use under certain conditions and in fact the product failed when it was used under those conditions.
There are many different types of product liability claims. They can be as diversedas:
- Automobiles and automobile products
- Children's toys
- Sporting goods
- Medicine or drug defects
- Food from a grocery store or restaurant
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there are 200 to 300 product recalls each year. A large percentage of these recalls involve children's products and toys. Recently, there was a recall of cribs manufactured by two different manufacturers because they could cause death to young children. Products may be recalled because of defects or dangerous conditions and include automobiles, tires, furniture, household appliances, tools and safety equipment. Products are suppose to be designed for safe use and when they fail because of defects, they can cause serious injury, including brain injuries, spinal cord injuries or paralysis or death.
Products can be defective because of the way in which they were designed or in the warnings that should accompanying the product itself. There may also be defects in the product because of the manufacturing process. Frequently, the instructions that come with the product fail to warn consumers of dangers in the use of the product.