Product liability is the area of law involving the liability of designers, manufacturers, and suppliers of products for injuries to purchasers, users, and bystanders caused by defects in the products they market.
The purpose of products liability in California is to insure that the costs of injuries resulting from defective products are borne by those who put the defective products on the market rather than by the injured persons who are powerless to protect themselves. Theories of liability on which a products liability action may be based include strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty.
There are several products manufactured today that can become dangerous. This is due to improper design, poor manufacturing, or they do not contain the proper warnings of the dangerous propensities of the product.
When manufacturers are faced with mounting production costs for their product, safety and quality can be compromised. This causes some manufacturers to release their products into the stream of commerce that are unreasonably unsafe for the public, either knowingly or unknowingly.
Believe it or not, Government agencies cannot automatically "order" a product recall. Most product recalls are done voluntarily by the manufacturers and suppliers. Government agencies only intercede when the manufacturer fails to comply with the voluntary recall. The Consumer Product Safety Commission protects the public from thousands of unsafe products by publishing current comprehensive lists of recalled products. Responsible consumers should check these lists from time to time to ensure their family's safety. Check www.cpsc.gov for more information.
Strict Liability In Products Cases
Strict product liability, now the law in nearly every state, allows an action against a manufacturer that sells any defective product resulting in injury to a buyer or anyone who uses it. If you are injured by a defective product, you do not need to prove that a manufacturer was negligent, but only that the product was defective. A strict liability action can be brought against the parties that designed, manufactured, sold or furnished the product. It is possible for plaintiffs to recover punitive damages in strict product liability actions, though such cases are relatively rare and usually deal with outrageous conduct. Punitive damages are money awards, which go beyond an award for other damages. Punitive damages are intended to set an example and punish wrongdoers for intentional and outrageous conduct with evil intent. Liability actions against manufacturers for products that injure consumers also may be based on negligence, a contractual breach of warranty or, sometimes, a manufacturer's intentional wrongful conduct.
Here are the three primary ways a product is defective:
- Design - is a defect that arises from some aspect of the design or plan of the product that makes the product unsafe.
- Manufacture - results from a flaw in the manufacturing process that causes a product to differ from the manufacturer's intended result or from other ostensibly identical units of the same product line. That is, when a product comes off the assembly line in a substandard condition it has incurred a manufacturing defect.
- Failure to warn of dangerous propensities of the product - one may recover under strict liability where an injury is caused by the manufacturer 's failure to provide the consumer with conspicuous and appropriate warnings of the known or knowable dangers resulting from foreseeable use of the product.
You may also check for and report unsafe products at www.safetyalerts.com.
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