Product liability refers to the branch of law wherein retailers, suppliers, distributors, or manufacturers that make products available for public consumption are held responsible for the injuries or damages resulting from those products. The most common claims associated with this law include various consumer protection claims, breach of warranty, strict liability, and negligence. Majority of product liability laws vary widely from state to state. In most cases, these laws are determined at the state level. Every type of product liability claim requires several elements to be proven in able to present a successful claim.
There are three major types of claims that are covered by product liability laws. These types are distinguished as a manufacturing defect, a design defect, and marketing defects. However, in some states, these types of claims are not considered as legal claims instead the defendant can only plead based on above theories.
Product liability is also defined as liability for damages such as a body, life, or property of another person is injured by consuming the product directly. The person or entity that imported, processed, or manufactured the product will be held liable for the damages of the injured person.
The product liability law considers the “defect in the product” as a liability condition instead of fault or intention of manufacturer or product supplier. This law employs the liability without fault principle wherein the manufacturer or product supplier is held liable for the injury caused by the defected product on the person. This is regardless whether it was intended or not. On the contrary, the manufacturer or product supplier is not held liable if there is no defect found on the product.
There are five different points of product liability law. These points include the following:
- Time Limitations – an injured person who does not exercise his or her rights for damages provided by the product liability law within the designated periods, shall be extinguished by prescription. The designated periods can be a long-term liable period or short-term negative prescription.
- Exemptions – the product liability laws considered “development risk defense” as an exemption. Under this exemption, the manufacturer or product supplier will not be held liable for the injuries or damages if the case is proven to be under the condition of technical or scientific knowledge. Another exemption is the “raw material manufacturer’s defense”. In this defense, the component or raw material manufacturer will not be liable for the injuries or damages if the product manufacturer did not follow the given instructions or specifications of the raw materials.
- Theory of the term “Defect” – under the product liability law, this term refers to lack of safety in the product instead of lack of quality. When we say lack of safety, the product may have caused injuries or damages to the property, body, or life of an individual.
- Parties question to liability – manufacturer and importer are the parties often subject to product liability. Any person or company names labeled on the product are the parties subject for liability in any event of injuries or damages resulted from the direct use of the product.
- Scopes of the Product – products have extensive ranges. It can be movable or non-movable. However, the non-movable products such as electricity, software, information, and services are not covered under the product liability law. Products such as mineral, marine, forestall, and agricultural are also not covered by the law.