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Product Liability Law is a specialized field which requires years of training and understanding in order to present a successful case. Most Manufacturers have vast resources to defend their products and will spare no expense in defeating a consumer who has been injured by their products. Our Firm has successfully presented hundreds of Products Liability cases involving everything from automobiles to machinery and household items. For a Free Professional consultation on your claim Please contact us immediately.
Products Liability Law Overview:
Products liability is the liability of any or all manufacturers of any product for damage caused by that product. Products containing defects that cause harm to a consumer of the product, are the subjects of products liability suits.
Products liability claims are usually based on negligence or strict liability. Many states have enacted comprehensive products liability statutes. There is no federal products liability law. In any jurisdiction one must prove that the product is defective.
There are three types of product defects that incur liability in manufacturers and suppliers:
1) design defects exist before the product is manufactured
2) manufacturing defects exist during construction and production phases
3) defects in marketing exist when improper details have been given to warn consumer of dangers in the product
Products Liability is generally considered a strict liability offense. Liability of a defendant in a products liability case is determined when it is shown that the product is defective.
Products liability law is derived mainly from Torts Law, but is found mainly in common law (state judge-made law) and in the Uniform Commercial Code. Article 2 of the UCC deals with the sales of goods and it has been adopted by most states.
The most important products liability sections are:
2-314 of the Uniform Commercial Code:
Implied Warranty: Merchantability; Usage of Trade.
(1) Unless excluded or modified (Section 2-316), a warranty that the goods shall be merchantable is implied in a contract for their sale if the seller is a merchant with respect to goods of that kind. Under this section the serving for value of food or drink to be consumed either on the premises or elsewhere is a sale.
(2) Goods to be merchantable must be at least such as
” (a) pass without objection in the trade under the contract description; and
” (b) in the case of fungible goods, are of fair average quality within the description; and
” (c) are fit for the ordinary purposes for which such goods are used; and
” (d) run, within the variations permitted by the agreement, of even kind, quality and quantity within each unit and among all units involved; and
” (e) are adequately contained, packaged, and labeled as the agreement may require; and
” (f) conform to the promise or affirmations of fact made on the container or label if any.
(3) Unless excluded or modified (Section 2-316) other implied warranties may arise from course of dealing or usage of trade.
2-315 of the Uniform Commercial Code:
Implied Warranty: Fitness for Particular Purpose.
Where the seller at the time of contracting has reason to know any particular purpose for which the goods are required and that the buyer is relying on the seller’s skill or judgment to select or furnish suitable goods, there is unless excluded or modified under the next section an implied warranty that the goods shall be fit for such purpose.
Products liability law deals with personal injuries and damage caused by defective products. Defective products include those that have an inherent flaw in the product design and products that are defectively or improperly manufactured. If there is a design or manufacturing defect, the manufacturer could be held liable for injuries that result from a consumer’s use of the product. Consequently, it is essential for the manufacturer to ensure the quality of its products. This article discusses the various components of quality control and the procedures that can be used to reduce the manufacturer’s potential liability for its products.
Quality control refers to maintaining standards of quality for products that are manufactured. The goal is to prevent, detect, and correct any product defects. Quality control consists of both an internal system to assure quality and a procedure for sampling completed products to determine if they are satisfactory for sale.
Quality Control Manual and Quality Administrator
It is important for a manufacturer to develop a written quality control manual that describes its product safety standards. The manual should cover the design of the product, as well as the testing and inspection procedures used to assure the product’s safety. The manufacturer should document its design review of the product. Product reliability tests and routine inspections are also part of a good quality control process. The manufacturer should have in place a quality administrator to ensure that quality standards are maintained throughout the manufacturing process.
The manufacturer must have in place a method for identifying and tracking each product, such as a serial number or a lot number. The method should enable the manufacturer to trace the product from the company to the vendors and, ultimately, to the consumers. Who controls the product once it leaves the manufacturer’s hands and the product condition at that point can be a significant issue in product liability cases. It is necessary for the plaintiff to prove that a product was defective when it left the manufacturer’s control in order to hold the manufacturer liable for any injury or damage resulting from the product’s use.
Database for Consumer Complaints
The manufacturer should maintain a database of consumer complaints about its products. All complaints should be investigated and a response should be sent to the consumer. A database of complaints can be a valuable tool in making a manufacturer aware of potential problems in its products.
Proper Documentation of Product
The manufacturer should document test results and product performance in order to reduce any potential liability for its products.
Review Product Literature and Advertising
It is important for the manufacturer to review its product literature and advertising from time to time. This includes re-evaluating any directions for using the product and any warnings associated with product use. The product should perform as claimed in the product literature. If the directions or warnings are inadequate, the manufacturer could be held liable if a consumer is harmed when using the product.
The manufacturer should have in place a written recall procedure in case a recall of a product becomes necessary. The speedy recall of a product can help reduce the manufacturer’s exposure to liability for the product.