What is Product Liability?
Product Liability is the responsibility of a manufacturer or vendor of goods to compensate for injury caused by defective merchandise that it has provided for sale.
When an individual is harmed by an unsafe product, they may have a “Cause of Action” against the persons who designed, manufactured, sold, or made that product available in the marketplace. Some consumers have revered the rapid growth of product liability litigation as the important tool for Consumer Protection. In some states (although, unfortunately not in Virginia), the law has changed from caveat emptor (“let the buyer beware”) to Strict Liability for defective products that are unreasonably dangerous.
In other words, a product liability case holds a manufacturer or seller responsible for placing a defective product into the marketplace. Responsibility for defective product that causes injury lies with all of the sellers of the product who are participants in the distribution chain. The law typically requires that a product meet the ordinary expectations of the consumer. When a product has an unexpected defect or is dangerous, the product cannot usually be said to have met ordinary expectations of the consumer.
Because there is no Federal product liability law, the laws for product liability vary by state. Many times product liability claims are brought under the categories of negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty. A set of commercial statutes for each state have been modeled on the Uniform Commercial Code, and these will contain warranty rules affecting product liability.
Virginia law states that a product must be reasonably safe for the purposes for which it is intended and for its reasonably foreseeable uses. In Virginia, a person injured by a defective product usually has two years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit. There are some very rarely encountered exceptions to the two year rule such as mental incompetency.
Who is Responsible?
For a product liability case to arise, the product must have been sold in the marketplace. In the past, a contractual relationship, known as “privity of contract“, had to exist between the person injured by a product and the supplier of the product in order for the injured person to have a valid case. In most states today, that requirement no longer exists, and the injured person does not have to be the purchaser of the product in order to recover. In other words, any person who foreseeably could have been injured by a defective product can recover for his or her injuries, as long as the product was sold to someone.
Types of Product Defects
In a product liability case, it must be proven that the product that caused injury was defective. It must also be proven that the defect made the product unreasonably dangerous. There are three types of defects that lend themselves to manufacturer or supplier liability:
- Design Defects
- Manufacturing Defects
- Marketing (Misrepresentation)
Unavoidably Unsafe Products
Some products simply cannot be made safer without losing their intended usefulness. For example, a chain saw or lawn mower that is too dull to injure anyone would also be useless for its intended purpose. Manufacturers and suppliers of unavoidably unsafe products must give proper warnings of the dangers and risks of their products so that consumers can make informed decisions regarding them.
Why Getting Legal Help for a Defective Product Injury is Important
Product liability actions typically are very complex and establishing legal fault often requires the assistance and testimony of experts. As you can imagine, the companies that a plaintiff will go up against in this type of case will have tremendous financial resources. They more than likely have their own attorneys who are so specialized in trying to out maneuver claims brought against them that it is almost an impossibility to win this type of case without legal representation.
Parrish Law Firm, PLLC Product Liability Attorney, located in Manassas and Fairfax works with Northern Virginia citizens who have been hurt by defective products and need fair compensation for their suffering. Contact us today for a free case consultation, or call us.
“Where Experience Meets Results – We Care”
A representative of the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC researched and wrote this article with Mr. Parrish’s consent. If you have any questions regarding the legal implications of what you have just read, please send us your question by clicking here so we can have our attorney review it.