Strict Product Liability - Explained
Liabiliy for defective products
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What is Strict Products Liability?
Strict products liability involves the commercial sale of defective products because of either design or manufacture that are unreasonably dangerous and cause harm to the user.
Next Article: Defenses in a Strict Liability Action Return to: TORT LAW
What is Strict Products Liability?
Strict products liability involves the commercial sale of defective products. In most states, any retail, wholesale, or manufacturer who sells an unreasonably dangerous, defective product that causes injury to a user of the product is strictly liable.
This applies to commercial sellers who normally sell products like the one causing injury or who place them in the stream of commerce, such as suppliers of defective parts and companies that assemble a defective product.
There are two kinds of defects for purposes of strict product liability:
What are Production Defects?
A production defect occurs when products are not manufactured to a manufacturer's own standards. Consumers of the defective product are later injured as a result of this variation from the manufacturer's standards.
What are Design Defects?
A design defect occurs when a product is manufactured according to the manufacturer's standards but is an unsafe design. The product injures a user due to its unsafe design.
If either of these defects makes the product unreasonably dangerous if used as intended, any seller of the product (from manufacturer to retailer) may be liable for an injury caused by the defective product.
Strict products liability is useful in protecting individual consumers who suffer personal injury or property damage.
How do you feel about the fact that anyone in the chain of distribution can be liable for design or manufacture defects? Why do you think the law allows for such wide liability?
Fancy Motors is a car manufacturing company. They develop a new, compact car for the US market. The car has troubles from the minute it comes off of the assembly line. The gas tank is located behind the fender-well of the vehicle. This leads to an increased risk of fire in the event of a rear-end collision. Also, Fancy Motors installed a seatbelt system that is designed to have three points of contact with the car frame. Due to space concerns and a lack of understanding of the seatbelt system, Fancy only attached the seatbelt to the frame in two locations. Can you identify any points of potential liability for Fancy Motors in this scenario?
- In the example from the practice question, Fancy Motors will likely be strictly liable for the vehicle defect if it causes an injury. Strict product liability is a legal rule that says that a seller, distributor or manufacturer of a defective product is liable to a person injured by that product regardless of whether the defendant acted intentionally or negligently. The purpose of this rule is to ensure that sellers, distributors and manufacturers do not make products that are defective, produce defective designs of the products, or even sell said defective products. If the manufacturer, distributors, and seller ignores the defects and sells the product, they will be held liable for the injuries sustained by the buyers. In a strict liability claim, a plaintiff has to prove:
- The product was sold in a dangerous, unreasonable condition.
- Seller, manufacturer, and distributor expected and intended the product would reach the consumers without any changes to it along the way.
- Plaintiff and/or their property was injured because of the product's defect.
- Tort Law (Intro)
- What are Torts?
- What are the types of torts?
- Assault and Battery?
- Intentional Infliction of Emotions Distress?
- Invasion of Privacy?
- False Imprisonment?
- Malicious Prosecution?
- Defamation and 1st Amendment Considerations?
- Intentional Interference with Contractual Relations?
- What is Negligence?
- Negligence A Duty of Care?
- Negligence Breach of Duty of Care?
- What are common defenses to negligence actions?
- What is Strict Liability?
- Strict Liability Causes of Action Examples
- Strict Products Liability
- What defenses exist to strict product liability actions?
- Compensatory damages?
- Punitive damages?
- Treble Damages