LEGAL BACKGROUND ON DANGEROUS PRODUCTS
A product may be dangerous on one of three grounds:
- the product was defectively designed, so that all items produced, distributed, and sold share the same danger;
- the product was defectively manufactured, in which case the entire product line is not inherently dangerous, but only a specific individual product is faulty; and
- the product is dangerous because of a lack of sufficient instructions regarding its assembly and use, or it fails to adequately warn of dangers associated with use of the product.
Under the doctrine of “strict products liability,” it is not necessary to prove that the manufacturer of the product was careless (“negligence”) in making the product. All that the injured victim must show is that the product had a defect, the defect made the product dangerous when used for its intended purpose or in a reasonably foreseeable manner, and the victim’s injuries were directly caused by the defective product.
A product is defectively designed if it fails to perform as an ordinary consumer would expect when used in an intended or foreseeable manner (the “consumer expectations” test), or if the product’s design caused injury and the manufacturer of the product fails to prove that the benefits of the design outweighed the risk of danger inherent in such design (the “risk/benefit” test). When a product is defective in design that makes the product dangerous even when used according to the instructions, the product may be recalled or the manufacturer may supply additional parts that protect the user from harm.
Product liability law can differ from state-to-state. For instance, California’s products liability law provides generally that manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and others in the marketing chain of a product are “strictly liable in tort” for personal injuries caused by a defective product. The rules of products liability focus responsibility for defects, whether negligently or non-negligently caused, in the manufacturer of the completed product. As the California Supreme Court has explained, the basis for imposing strict products liability on a particular defendant is that he or she has marketed or distributed a product that is dangerous because of a defect.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a by a defective product, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately so he or she can start working right away to obtain all the monetary compensation you are entitled to.