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At any moment during a person’s day, a products liability claim can develop. From the lead in toys that our children enjoy to the tires on our vehicles that we trust to safely transport our families, the consequences of a defective product can be devastating. The area of law that has developed to remedy these situations is called products liability. Consumers have a right to assume that the products they use are safe and reliable. When they fail and cause injury or death, a consumer has a right to file a claim against a number of parties in the chain that allowed the dangerous product to be put out on the market.

Products liability, therefore, often involves complex litigation. The nature of a products liability claim is dependent on the jurisdiction or state where the injured person lives, the type of product, and the variety and cause of the defect. Product defects can surface in different facets of the user experience including defects in design, manufacturing, or even when a manufacturer fails to warn of associated dangers in the product’s use. Moreover, liability in these cases can rest on many different parties ascending the supply chain up to the original manufacturer - from the manufacturer and distributor to the supplier and retailer. After gathering all of this information, a knowledgeable attorney will determine the appropriate type of claim that should be pursued including strict liability, negligence, breach of warranty, or even fraud.

Strict Liability: Rather than focus on the behavior of the manufacturer (as in negligence), strict liability claims focus on the product itself. Under strict liability, the manufacturer is liable for harm caused by the defective product, even if the manufacturer was not negligent in making that product defective.

Negligence: This case type most resembles an ordinary negligence lawsuit. In addition to duty, defect, causation, and injury, the injured party needs to prove that the manufacturer or seller breached its duty to the person harmed.

Breach of Warranty: When the maker of a product warrants its characteristics, if it fails in one of those characteristics and the failure causes an injury, a breach of warranty claim arises. Warranties can be express (written or sometimes verbal) or implied by law.

Pam Menaker

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