Ventura County Product Liability Attorney
In California, product liability refers to the responsibility of all parties involved in the design or manufacture of any product to be liable for damage caused by the use of that item. This could involve the manufacturer of component parts at the very top of the chain, a company who constructs the product once the components are made, the dealer, or even the retail store that sells the product to a consumer. Products containing inherent defects in manufacturing process, design, or inadequate warning labels that cause damage to a consumer are common topics of product liability lawsuits.
Many product liability lawsuits started as small personal injury suits, but later revealed a larger pattern of reckless corporate behavior that put customers in the way of potentially serious harm.
Types of Product Liability Claims for Defective Merchandise
Product liability cases can be based upon strict liability, carelessness, or a violation of the warranty of fitness. For many years, there were no federal laws that dealt specifically with product liability regulations, so the law for each case was typically defined by the jurisdiction in which the case is based. In recent decades however, the U.S. Department of Business created the Model Uniform Product Liability Act (MUPLA) which entails standard procedures for products liability torts.
Under California’s comparative fault law, the jury can reduce liability of the plaintiff by splitting responsibility between the defendant, plaintiff, and even third parties that were involved if it is deemed necessary.
Manufacturing Defect Claims
The most common type of product liability claim made is when the injury-causing product was produced or manufactured defectively. These items are flawed because of an error in the process of its creation such as an issue at the factory where it was made. The injury-causing item is in some way different from all the other ones on the shelf in a way where it was the cause of harm to a consumer.
Manufacturing Defect Examples:
- A toxin present as an impurity in medicinal products.
- A vehicle missing its head light lamps after assembly.
- A crack in the chain of a swing.
For every case, the injury must have directly or indirectly resulted from the manufacturing flaw.
With this type of product liability claim, the design of the product is naturally harmful or defective. Defective design cases do not emerge from some error or mishap in the manufacturing procedure, but more from a claim that an entire product line contains a defect that is harmful, regardless of the fact that the injury-causing item was made in complete accordance with manufacturing requirements.
Design Defect Examples:
- A defect in tires that causes them to break apart at high speeds because cheaper materials were used.
- A line of heated blankets that can electrocute customers when switched onto high.
- A type of sunglasses that inadequately protect the eyes from ultraviolet rays.
Similarly to manufacturing defects, the injury needs to have been triggered by the malfunctioning design.
Inadequate Warning & Label Liability Claims
This type of product liability claim entails a manufacturer’s failing to give ample cautions or instructions to consumers concerning the product’s correct usage. Failure-to-warn cases typically include a product that is dangerous to the individual in some unobvious way or a product that calls for the individual to exercise special preventative measures when using it.
Failure-to-Warn Claims Examples:
- A cold medicine that does contain a detailed warning on its label that it might create hazardous or adverse effects if taken with other common drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
- An electrical tea kettle that is packaged without sufficient caution concerning its strangely positioned vapor shutoff which may cause harm to consumers simply trying to flip the switch.
- A harsh, paint-removing chemical that is sold without adequate instructions for safe use & storage.
Distinguishing Between the Different Types of Claims
The best example for describing the differences between the 3 types of claims is a defective bottle of cough syrup. If the chemical concoction inside of the bottle has a few drops of arsenic that fell into it by during the manufacturing process at the facility where it was made, the claim would be based on a manufacturing defect.
Comparatively, if taking that exact same brand of untampered-with cough syrup caused you to have a stroke or heart attack as a result of its ingredients which are typically there, your case would be based on a design defect.
Finally, if the cough syrup was made properly and is generally considered safe consumer use, but it caused you harm because it was dangerously combined with another medicine and the label did not provide adequate caution that such a combination is dangerous, your claim would be based on a manufacturer’s failure to warn you of such danger.