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A Guide to Product Liability Law

Information from Ryder Law used by permission.

Strict Liability

This is liability for damages as a result of an unsafe product. In this case the court only examines the product and not if the manufacturer took all precautions to make sure the product was safe for use. I consider it the simplest form of liability case since all you need to do is prove that the product was faulty and this defect led to the injury.

Some states have liability laws to protect other parties along the supply chain from fraudulent claims. As a result, the plaintiff in addition to establishing strict liability must also prove negligence by the manufacturer.


One of the areas a plaintiff can establish a liability case in is negligence. This is the failure by the manufacturer to ensure that the product does not injure or harm the intended user. Your liability case can be built around the manufacturer's failure to provide ordinary care which is ensuring the product is of sound design and has no manufacturing defects and has passed the inspection process.

While establishing a case of negligence one must clearly show that the manufacturer not only failed to provide ordinary care, but one must also prove that you and I as the consumers are owed such care by them.

Manufacturing Defects

According to the law in most states, manufacturers are not liable for any product related accidents or injuries unless the product has a defect that can be traced back to the manufacturing process. There are two categories of product defects - manufacturing defects and design defects.

Manufacturing defects arise if the product deviates from its set specifications, fails to meet the performance standards or is in any way different from similar products in the product line.

Design defects occur when the design makes the products unreasonably hazardous. During product design, the manufacturer is required to ensure the final product can fulfill its purpose without causing danger to you and I, the end users.

Failure to warn

This liability arises when the manufacturer fails to provide labels, instructions for use and relevant warnings for using the product. I must say that this would usually apply where the risk of the product is well known. The product manufacturer must not only demonstrate that they gave warning but that the warning was adequate.

Breach of Warranty

Warranties are contracts made to the buyer by the seller concerning the quality, number, type and performance of a certain product. There are two types of warranties according to law - express warranty and implied warranty. The former can be a tacit agreement or it can be as a consequence of the products advertising or design specifications at the point of sale. The latter however is assumed to exist unless a claim is made to the contrary.

Breach of warranty can be argued when there is a violation of the written or implied warranty or where a plaintiff can prove that the product was substandard or did not satisfy the requirements to enable it perform its designated task.