What is the Basis for Liability in Product

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The laws surrounding defective product liability cases vary from state to state. There are three legal theories that are the same, though, no matter what state you are in. These are called the basis for liability in product. These are the core components that form the basis of any successful liability case.

  • Manufacturing defect. A manufacturing defect is a flaw in a product from its intended design even if all possible care was exercised in its assembly and marketing.
  • Design defect. This is the case where a product imperfection occurs when the seller or distributor could have reduced or avoided a foreseeable risk of harm by adopting a reasonable alternative design, and when, as a result of not using the alternative, the product is not reasonably safe.
  • Failure to warn or "inadequate warning." A hidden defect is like it, in that the product imperfection is not obvious by reasonable inspection but where the seller is still generally liable if the flaw causes harm.

Furthermore, for every cause of action in a product liability lawsuit, the case will have to rely on one of the following theories:

  • Negligence
  • Breach of Warranty
  • Misrepresentation
  • Strict tort liability.

Each is explained as follows:

Negligence refers to the failure to exercise, proper or ordinary care. It means that an individual who had a legal obligation either omitted to do what should have been done or did something that should not have been done. A manufacturer can be held liable for negligence if lack of reasonable care in the production, design, or assembly of the manufacturer's product caused harm. For example, a manufacturing company might be found negligent if its employees did not do their work properly or if management allowed improper procedures to be followed.

Breach of warranty is the failure of a seller to fulfill the terms of a promise, claim, or representation made concerning the quality or type of the product. The law assumes that a seller gives certain warranties concerning goods that are sold and that he or she must stand behind these assumptions.

Misrepresentation in the advertising and sales promotion of a product refers to the process of giving consumers false security about the safety of a particular product, ordinarily by drawing attention away from the hazards of its use. An action lies in the intentional concealment of potential hazards or in negligent misrepresentation. The key to recovery on the basis of misrepresentation is the plaintiff's ability to prove that he relied upon the representations that were made. Misrepresentation can be argued under a theory of breach of express warranty or a theory of strict tort liability.

Strict liability involves extending the responsibility of the vendor or manufacturer to all individuals who might be injured by the product, even in the absence of fault. Injured guests, bystanders, or others with no direct relationship to the product may sue for damages caused by the product. An injured party must prove that the item was defective, the defect proximately caused the injury, and the defect rendered the product unreasonably dangerous.

Contact a Product Liability Lawyer today!