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Product Liability

How do product liability claims arise?

Product liability disclaimer.
Product liability claims can be very straightforward, very complex and everything in between. Call us for a consultation if you think you may have a claim.

A product liability claim arises out of an injury to an individual as a result of a defective product.

An example would be if someone purchased a car and, as they were driving home, a wheel fell off the car and the person ended up hitting a tree. What makes these types of claims different from negligence claims is that it is not necessary to show that the manufacturer or seller of the product was negligent, only that the product itself was defective.

When an individual purchases a product, there are implied warranties, which essentially means there are promises by the seller and manufacturer of the product. These promises include that the product is reasonably fit for the purpose for which it was sold and that the product isn't defective. If someone is injured as a result of the product not meeting its implied warranties, then both the seller and the manufacturer are liable to that person for his or her injuries.

Who can file a claim?

The person that's injured doesn't necessarily have to be the person that purchased the product. Any person that is a reasonably-expected user of the product purchased can bring a claim on the theory of product liability.

Furthermore, limitations on warranties which often accompany a product may not be enforceable. Maine has a law that the manufacturer and seller cannot limit the implied warranties, including the remedies for the implied warranties, on products sold to consumers.

A consumer is a person who is purchasing the product for his or her own use, or for that of use for his household. A consumer is distinguished from a commercial user which would include someone who is purchasing the product for his or her business.

Straightforward vs. complex product liability claims

Product liability claims can be very straightforward, very complex and everything in between.

A straightforward claim might be if someone purchased a product from a grocery store, ate it and got sick because the it was either spoiled or contained substances that shouldn't have been there. The grocery store is liable for the injuries, even though it may not have been negligent. The grocery store will, however, look to whoever supplied the product to be responsible, as well.

The complex case is when the claim is that the product was defectively designed. These cases are very complex and expensive to pursue. Examples would be the claim that an automobile was designed in a manner such that it couldn't withstand certain crashes.

A claimant in a product liability case may hear the defendant’s attorney claim that the harmed person was comparatively at fault, meaning that the person injured either misused or negligently used the product to cause the injury. If the defendant can show that the person making the claim was equally or more at fault than the person or company manufacturing or selling the product, then the claimant can't recover.

This issue becomes even more complex when it can be shown that the manufacturer knew that people would misuse the product in certain ways and failed to make adequate safety designs to avoid the misuse.

In conclusion, product liability cases are based upon the concept that a manufacturer and seller have an obligation to the consumer to sell a product that is not defective.