What Are the Components of a Product Liability Claim?

By Peter DePaolis

If you or a loved one got hurt by a dangerous or defective product, you need to know whether you can take legal action for your losses. There are several possible grounds that might be available to you, depending on your circumstances. These lawsuits are called product liability claims.

This blog will discuss the components of a product liability claim. A DC personal injury attorney can talk to you about your situation and help you hold the responsible party accountable for the harm you suffered.

Strict Liability in Product Liability Claims

If the court holds the maker or seller of the dangerous or defective product liable under the theory of strict liability, you will not have to prove that the defendant was negligent when they made or sold the item. Strict liability means that you will simply have to prove that you used the object as intended by the manufacturer and that you got injured because of a defect in the product.

The item must not have modifications made after being sold, if those modifications contributed to the flaw that injured you. In other words, putting a bumper sticker on a car would not contribute to engine failure, but having upgrades done to the engine after you bought it might do so.

Negligence in Product Liability Cases

Manufacturers have a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure that their products are safe. When a consumer gets injured by a dangerous product, they can sue the manufacturer if they can identify the flaw in the product that harmed them and show that the maker was negligent.

Negligence is a more difficult legal ground to prove than strict liability, but not all consumer products qualify for strict liability protection. In a nutshell, negligence means that:

  • The defendant had a legal duty, for example, a duty to make their products safe for their intended use by consumers.
  • The defendant breached that legal duty. By way of example, using a defective design can be a breach of the duty to make a safe consumer product. 
  • The careless action must be the cause of the injury to the plaintiff. 
  • The plaintiff must have measurable damages. Physical injuries satisfy this required factor of negligence.

When a plaintiff can prove all four of these elements, they can seek financial compensation from the defendant for their injuries and other losses.

Breach of Warranty in Product Liability Claims

This legal theory requires the plaintiff to show that the defendant breached a warranty that they made or implied about the product. Many product liability lawsuits allege that the defendant made an implied warranty that their product was safe for its intended use.

Product Liability Cases Based on Fraud 

Sometimes, a product liability claim has its legal basis in fraud. When a case alleges that the manufacturer or seller knowingly made false statements about the product, the injured person might have a claim for fraud. It must have been reasonable for the injured party to have relied on the false statement. Product liability claims are challenging because they involve complicated legal issues. You can talk to a DC personal injury attorney about whether you are eligible to pursue a product liability case. We offer a free initial consultation with no obligation. Contact us today for help with your case.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.