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Product Liability in California

Apr 25, 2019 | Product Liability

Under California law manufacturers, distributors and sellers of commercial products have a responsibility to consumers to ensure their products are safe for consumer use.

The examples of product liability claims can include unsafe children’s toys, defective autos and auto parts, faulty kitchen, defective motorcycle gear, appliances, defective pharmaceutical drugs, specialized equipment and tools for manufacturing and construction.

How to Know if a Product is Defective

Product is considered defective in case it is more dangerous than a reasonable user would expect it to be under reasonably predictable circumstances. The product is defective in case the consumer is using it in an ordinary way for which it is intended, but it causes injury because of essential fault in the product itself. Though, if the consumer uses a product in a dangerous and unusual way, the product cannot be considered defective.

What are the Main Types of Defects?

There are the three main types of product liability claims in California, which include, design defect, manufacturing defect, and marketing/ advertising defect.

A design defect occurs when a product fails to perform as safely as a consumer expects, and the risk of its danger outweigh the benefits of the design. Defective designs have created dangerous products as child products, medical devices, safety products and much more. Defective design claims must include a proof that the whole product line is unsafe, regardless of the fact that the dangerous product was produced in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.

A manufacturing defect takes place when the product differs from the manufacturer’s specifications and design, or it differs from other units of the same product line. Manufacturing defects can make a product too dangerous to use. A plaintiff must prove there was a flaw in the manufacturing process, and product was different from the manufacturer’s design and it was manufactured differently than the prototype.

A marketing/ advertising defect is when a company can be liable for advertising a product for a purpose for which it was inappropriate or for failing to include proper warnings or instructions with the product. Companies are responsible to market their products in a safe manner. Marketing a product without promoting off-label use of a product or sufficient warning labels are examples of a marketing defect.

What Happens if a Company Fails to Warn?

According to California strict product liability, a defendant who is aware that the consumer is using the product in a reasonably foreseeable manner that exposes him to a risk of injuries is obliged to warn the consumer of the risk of injury or harm.

The defendant can be found liable for a failure to warn when such failure could have altered the outcome. So, in case a typical consumer would have become aware of the risk of injuries or harm on his own, then the defendant can’t be found liable for failing to warn of an already-known hazard.

Who Can be Held Responsible for Defective Products?

In California different parties in the distribution chain can be liable for a defective product. Defendants can include, product manufacturer and designer, distributor, parties that assemble or install the product, and retailers.

In the case that someone has suffered due to a defective product, the first thing a person should do is see a doctor and receive sufficient treatment for his injuries, the next thing a person should do is document the defective product by using a camera to photograph both his injures and the defective product.  In case anyone saw the accident, person should also record their testimony and contact information, lastly it is very important to stop using the defective product and put it with all labels and packaging in a safe place. In case a person is aware about the defect but is still using the product, he can lose his right to make a claim against the defendants.

Strict Liability and Negligence in California

The type of product liability claim determines what a person must prove for winning his case.

In some product liability claims a consumer must prove that the defective product’s distributor, manufacturer or seller was negligent. In others product liability claims a consumer is only required to prove that the product was defective. In product liability claims that are based on negligence, a person must establish that a distributor, manufacturer or seller owed a duty or responsibility to him as a consumer, and they breached that duty.

In product liability claims that are based on strict liability a person must only prove that the product that caused an injury to him was defective. Then distributor, manufacturer or seller must be able prove that the harm was due to abuse, modification or misuse of the product. So a person doesn’t have to prove that the company was negligent, only that the product was defective.

Elements the Plaintiff Must Prove During a Product Liability Lawsuit in California

Generally, a plaintiff must be able to establish the following elements, to prevail on a claim for products liability in California, defendant designed, distributed, manufactured, or sold a defective product, product contained the defect when it left the defendant’s possession, plaintiff used the product in a reasonably foreseeable manner, as a result of the defect the plaintiff suffered harm.

If the above mentioned elements are proven, a plaintiff may be eligible for compensation. The plaintiff may recover for economic damages, these include costs of medical treatment, rehabilitation, nursing care and lost wages. They can also recover for non- economic damages, these include pain and suffering that are difficult to value in terms of money. These damages are very subjective and usually depend on the harshness of the injury and the degree of care that the distributor, manufacturer or seller took to protect the consumer.

For More Assistance…

If you or someone you know would like to file a product liability lawsuit in California, contact the attorneys at KAASS LAW at 310-933-5171. They can provide you with legal assistance by taking a look into your situation.