What are the Three Grounds on Which a Product Liability Case Can be Built?
Product liability claims arise when someone asserts that a defective or dangerous product caused them injuries. The injured victim can file a claim to hold the manufacturer liable for their medical bills and other related losses. However, there are specific grounds on which a product liability case must be based in order for an injury victim to successfully recover financially.
California law holds manufacturers strictly liable for injuries caused by products if a victim can prove one of the following grounds.
Some products are defective due to mistakes made in the design process. In this situation, it usually means that all products that stem from that design will all have the same defect. A design is considered to be defective if one or both of the following are true:
- The risks of harm inherent to the design outweigh any benefits of this particular product design
- The product did not perform in the safe manner that an ordinary consumer would expect when they used the product in a reasonably foreseeable manner
One example of a design defect is a pharmaceutical that has the risk of side effects that outweigh the benefits of the drug. For example, there are many claims arising from former Zantac users because the relief from heartburn and GERD was not worth the risk of cancer that has been connected with the drug. This would constitute a design defect under the risk/benefit analysis.
Sometimes, a product’s design can be safe, but mistakes in the manufacturing process can render the product defective or dangerous. A product is considered to have a manufacturing defect when:
- The product is different from what the manufacturer intended from the design specifications, or
- The product differs from others in the same line of products
Manufacturing defects might happen because certain batches of materials were inadequate or the assembly process was substandard. Unlike a design defect, a manufacturing defect might not impact all products in a line, but instead only a batch of products that used the same shoddy materials or resulted from the same assembly mistakes.
The third possible ground for a product liability claim does not stem from a product defect, but from the manufacturer’s failure to provide adequate warnings to consumers. Manufacturing companies have the duty to provide clear warnings, and when they do not, they could face liability if someone suffers injuries. The requirements for an inadequate warning claim include:
- The manufacturer knew or should have known about certain risks of injury
- The risks existed when a consumer used the product in the intended or a reasonably foreseeable manner
- Ordinary consumers would likely not realize the potential risks without warnings
- The defendant did not provide clear warnings
- The consumer suffered injuries as a result of the failure to warn
All three grounds for product liability claims are technical and challenging to prove, so anyone injured by a product should seek legal help and representation from an Orange County product liability attorney right away.