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Product Liability

Products liability refers to the liability of any or all parties along the chain of manufacture of any product for damage caused by that product. This includes the manufacturer of component parts, an assembling manufacturer, the wholesaler, and the retail store owner. Product liabilty suits may be brought by the consumer or someone to whom the product was loaned. While products are generally thought of as tangible personal property, products liability law has stretched that definition to include such items as gas, pets, real estate, and writings.

Products liability claims can be based on negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty of fitness depending on the jurisdiction within which the claim is based. In a strict liability theory of liability, the degree of care exercised by the manufacturer is irrelevant, as long as the product is proven to be defective, they will be held liable for the harm resulting from the defect.

Many states have enacted comprehensive products liability statutes. To promote unifority in these diverse statutes, the United States Department of Commerce has promulgated a Model Uniform Products Liability Act (MUPLA) for voluntary adoption by the states. Claims may be based on the common law of the states or on the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). Article 2 of the UCC deals with the sales of goods and it has been adopted by most states. The most important products liability sections are the implied and express warranties of merchantibility in the sales of goods § § 2-314 and 2-315. Products liability is derived mainly from torts law.

In order to prevail on a product liability claim, the product complained of must be shown to be defective. There are three types of product defects that incur liability in manufacturers and suppliers: design defects, manufacturing defects, and defects in marketing. Design defects are inherent; they exist before the product is manufactured. While the item might serve its intended use, it can be unreasonably dangerous to use due to a design flaw. Manufacturing defects occur during the construction or production of the item. Only a few out of many products of the same type are flawed in this case. Defects in marketing deal with improper instructions and failures to warn consumers of latent or hidden dangers in the product.

Attorneys who practice in the area of products liability provide services to individuals who have been injured or have a loved one that has been injured or killed due to the use or operation of a defective product, such as a defective airplane, automobile, lawnmower, ladder, tool, appliance, etc. Products liability attorneys typically handle related matters such as medical malpractice and commercial transactions, among others.