Every consumer in California is protected from injuries caused by products they purchase. Manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, retailers, and others who make products available to the public are held responsible for the injuries those products cause. Whatever the product, if it causes your injury, you have the right to demand compensation for those injuries.
Claims most commonly associated with product liability are:
- Strict liability
- Breach of warranty
- Consumer protection claims.
As consumers we are not informed of the manufacturing or distribution practices of the products we purchase. We operate at a disadvantage because we have no control over how our products are made, what components are used and the people involved in the manufacturing and distribution processes. Because of this, the manufacturer is responsible if the product is defective, even if the manufacturer was not careless in making that product. This is called strict liability.
Where Does Product Liability Protection Come From?
California was the first state to boldly assert the doctrine of strict liability for defective products. In a case called Greenman v. Yuba Power Products, 59 Cal. 2d 57 (1963) the court concluded that, in general, a manufacturer should be strictly liable when a product proves to have a defect that causes an injury to a human being. The purpose of such liability is to insure that the costs of injuries resulting from defective products are borne by the manufacturer that put such products on the market rather than by the injured persons who are powerless to protect themselves.
The year after Greenman, the Supreme Court of California proceeded to extend strict liability to all parties involved in the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of defective products (including retailers). Also, in 1969 the Supreme Court extended the defendants’ liability not only to direct customers and users, but also to any innocent bystanders randomly injured by defective products.
In addition to the legal protections offered by the court, many states have enacted consumer protection statutes providing for specific remedies for a variety of product defects. The best known examples of consumer protection laws for product defects are lemon laws.
If I Was Injured by a Product, What Do I Need To Know?
There are three major types of product liability claim theories:
- Manufacturing defect,
- Design defect,
- Failure to warn (also known as marketing defects).
These are defects that occur in the manufacturing process and usually involve poor-quality materials or shoddy workmanship.
This is a defect in the product design which is inherently dangerous or useless (and hence defective) no matter how carefully manufactured. This defect may be demonstrated either by showing that the product fails to satisfy ordinary consumer expectations as to what constitutes a safe product, or that the risks of the product outweigh its benefits.
These defects arise in products that have inherent non-obvious dangers which could be mitigated through adequate warnings to the user. These dangers must be present regardless of how well the product is manufactured and designed for its intended purpose.
Be Aware: The law limits the time in which you can file suit. If you miss that deadline you may not be able to recover for your injuries.