Product Liability Laws


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Throughout history, and until recent times, product liability law consisted of one overarching phrase: caveat emptor, “let the buyer beware.”  It was the responsibility of the buyer to carefully inspect products before they purchased them to ensure that they were safe and effective for their designated use.  In recent years, however, product liability laws have developed under both tort and contract law, requiring the manufacturer and all of the sellers along the path to the consumer to be held responsible, or to warrant, the product. 

Help for Consumers     

Under today’s product liability laws, consumers who are injured by a product they purchased in good faith from an official seller has the right to retain a product liability lawyer and determine if they have grounds to file a product liability lawsuit.  If such a lawsuit is viable, that consumer may be able to obtain any of a number of appropriate forms of compensation, such as medical costs, lost wages, compensation for pain and suffering, and ongoing or permanent disability payments. 

In order for a consumer to have a case under product liability law, several conditions must exist:

  • There was an “unreasonably dangerous” defect in the product that injured the consumer and occurred during the design, manufacture, or marketing of the product.
  • The injury occurred while the consumer used the product in the intended manner
  • The consumer did not substantially alter the product from the original design

Internet Consumer Protection

Another area of product liability law that is growing exponentially is internet consumer protection.  These laws are more difficult to enforce, but more and more legislators are recognizing the importance of internet consumer protection and providing the means for consumers to pursue it.  The most common areas in which consumers need protection in their internet transactions include

  • Identity theft
  • Internet business opportunities

It is estimated that there are numerous scams for every legitimate transaction on the internet.  The buyer should beware, but there are legal remedies if a consumer has been hurt, financially, by internet scams and identity theft. 

International Consumer Protection

Not only do many consumers purchase goods and services over the internet, but many foreign products are finding their way into the American market.  That means that those products which were manufactured thousands of miles away provide extra challenges if they are defective.  However, for products that were purchased in the U. S., international consumer protection is strong, providing the same measures that protect products manufactured in the States.  It becomes more difficult for products that are purchased outside the United States.  However, there are organizations to help, such as the international consumer protection and Enforcement Network. 

New Products and Liability

One of the most volatile areas of product liability law concerns new product liability.  When a new drug, product, or service is developed, there may be defects.  It may take time to remove all of those defects and realize a safe and dependable product for consumers.  During the early days of distribution, manufacturers may need to provide extra insurance and have a legal staff on hand to respond to any product liability lawsuits that may ensue. 

Getting Legal Help

No matter where a product was purchased, as long as it was not altered by the purchaser, that consumer can find remedies, including compensation and damages, for any injuries it produced.  These areas of law can be confusing, however, and the laws are unique to each state.  Therefore, it is crucial to contact a product liability attorney to guide you through the process and help you receive the protections and compensation you deserve.

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