Understanding Strict Liability in Product Liability Claims: How to Protect Your Legal Rights

As a consumer, you want to make sure the products you use are safe and reliable. But sometimes, a product can cause injury or harm, even if it was designed and manufactured correctly.

In these cases, manufacturers can be held liable under the legal doctrine of strict liability.

In this article, you’ll learn about strict liability and how it differs from negligence, the three types of defects that can give rise to a strict liability claim, and how to determine if you have grounds for a products liability claim based on strict liability.

Additionally, You’ll also learn about the staggering injuries and deaths caused by consumer product related incidents. Understanding these concepts can help protect your rights as a consumer and ensure manufacturers are held accountable for the safety of their products.

In general, manufacturers have a duty to make sure their products are safe for consumers. This duty is usually set forth in the common law of negligence.

Negligence is the failure to take reasonable care to avoid foreseeable harm. In other words, if a manufacturer makes a product that it knows or should know is dangerous, it can be held liable in a negligence action if someone is hurt by that product.

According to the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were an estimated 15,000 deaths and 29 million injuries resulting from consumer product-related incidents in 2018.

However, there is another legal doctrine that may apply to product liability claims, and that is strict liability.

Under strict liability, a manufacturer can be held liable for injuries caused by its product even if the manufacturer was not negligent.

In other words, strict liability does not require a showing of negligence. All that is required is that the plaintiff was injured by the product.

The elements of a strict liability claim are:

  • The defendant must have manufactured or sold the product
  • The plaintiff must have been injured by the product
  • The injury must have been caused by a defect in the product

There are three types of defects that can give rise to a strict liability claim: design defects, manufacturing defects, and marketing defects.

A design defect exists when the design of the product makes it unreasonably dangerous to consumers. To recover under a theory of design defect, the plaintiff must show that there was a safer alternative design available at the time the product was manufactured, and that the defendant should have used that alternative design.

A manufacturing defect exists when there is something wrong with the actual physical product itself, as opposed to the design of the product. Manufacturing defects are usually caused by errors made during the manufacturing process. To recover under a theory of manufacturing defect, the plaintiff must show that he or she was using the product as intended and that the defect made the product unreasonably dangerous.

Finally, a marketing defect arises when there is something wrong with the warnings or instructions provided with the product. For example, if a warning label on a bottle of chemicals fails to warn of a particular hazard posed by those chemicals, then that could be considered a marketing defect.

To recover under a theory of marketing defect, the plaintiff must show that he or she followed all warnings and instructions provided with the product, and that those warnings and instructions were inadequate.

Products liability claims based on strict liability are becoming more common as society becomes increasingly litigious.  If you run a product-based business you need to make sure you have insurance for products liability.  If you have been injured by a defective product, you may want to speak with an attorney to see if you have grounds for such a claim.