Product Liability

“Product Liability” cases involve claims against the “sellers” of dangerous or defective products. Sellers include manufacturers, distributors, dealers, wholesalers, and retailers. Dangerous or defective products cause personal injuries, or death, to thousands of people every year.

Many legal theories come into play in product liability cases. There are, for example, design defect claims, manufacturing defect claims, and claims involving failure to warn or defective warnings. Product liability claims include negligence claims, i.e., claims asserting negligence in the design or manufacture of the product. A person pursuing a negligence claim must prove that the defendant, or defendants, failed to exercise reasonable care and that this failure was a cause of injury or harm. Another type of product liability claim is strict liability for products, in which it must be established that (1) the product was in a defective condition at the time that it left the possession or control of the seller, (2) that it was unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer, (3) that the defect was a cause of the injuries, and (4) that the product was expected to and did reach the consumer without substantial change in its condition. In a claim based on strict liability, as opposed to a negligence action, a person pursuing the claim need not prove any specific act of negligence on the part of the seller. There are also several other alternative theories of recovery that can be asserted in product liability cases. For example, under appropriate circumstances, a person can assert a claim for breach of express warranty. More common, since most claims do not arise from breaches of express warranties, are claims for breach of implied warranty of merchantability and/or breach of implied warranty of fitness for particular use. Like strict liability claims, breach of warranty claims do not require proof of negligence on the part of defendants. Under appropriate circumstances, other consumer protection claims also may be available to those injured by dangerous or defective products.

Some product liability claims arise when workers are injured, or die, because they operate, or work near, dangerous or defective equipment or machinery that lacks sufficient safety devices. Many product liability claims, however, arise from dangerous or defective consumer products. Examples of consumer products that are encountered in product liability claims include: heaters; heating pads; electric blankets; smoke alarms or fire alarms; ovens and other cooking devices; cribs; bunk beds; ladders; saws and other power tools; lawn mowers; toys; and clothing or fabric that is too flammable. Automobiles, trucks, and other vehicles, e.g., golf carts or ATVs, are another type of product commonly involved in product liability claims. Some examples of product liability claims involving automobiles, trucks and other vehicles include: defective airbags; defective seatbelts; defective seats; defective tires; defective braking systems; defective accelerators; rollover claims; and crashworthiness claims.

Product liability cases can be complicated, and the attorneys at Iliff, Meredith, Wildberger & Brennan, P.C. have the expertise and experience to achieve the best possible outcomes for victims of injuries caused by dangerous or defective products. Please contact us by telephone (410) 685-1166 or online for a free consultation.