What is products liability? In California, products liability refers to strict liability for injuries caused by a product – designed, sold or manufactured by a person or company. Even if that person or company was not negligent – they are held strictly liable for the injuries caused to a foreseeable consumer, bystander or user.
How do you prove a products liability claim? Despite varying types of products liability claims, in general, these items must be proven:
- There is a defendant that designed, manufactured or sold a defective product;
- That the item that was sold contained a defect when it left the defendant’s possession;
- That the plaintiff used the product in a reasonably foreseeable manner; and
- The plaintiff suffered harm as a result of the defective product.
Strict liability can be imposed for three types of defects, namely, manufacturing defects, design defects, and warning defects. In California, a product contains a manufacturing defect if: the product differs from the manufacturer’s design or specifications, or if the product differs from other products within the same product line. (CACI No. 1201.) A design defect exists when: the product fails to perform as safely as it would when an ordinary consumer uses it for its intended purpose or in a reasonably foreseeable manner, or when the benefits of the design do not outweigh the risk of danger posed by the design. (CACI Nos. 1203 and 1204.) Lastly, there is a warning defect when there exists an inadequacy of warnings or instructions that a product may be dangerous. (CACI No. 1205.) (California Civil Jury Instructions (2017)).
Because each products liability claim differs, whether you have a case or not becomes questionable. If you (or someone you know) has been injured by a product that you believe is defective, it is recommended that you seek advice from an experienced personal injury attorney or professional so that you can evaluate your rights and assess your damages.
Authored by Scott D. McDonald, Esq.