When Are Most Product Liability Claims Filed?

by Terry Bryant

Product liability claims are filed when a person suffers injuries or damages from a defective product. The law sets forth four elements which must be met to have a case: 1) individual injured or suffered actual damages, 2) the item is defective, 3) the injury or loss resulted from the defective item, and 4) the item was used as directed.

First, a case must show actual injury or loss. Even if the good is defective or dangerous and could have caused injury, there is no case unless it actually does so.   Second, the article must be defective. The degree of difficulty in meeting this element depends upon the type of claim.  Common types of product liability claims include manufacturing error, dangerous design, and failure to warn.  Third, the injury or loss must clearly be a direct result of the defective article.  This is easily proved in some cases; however, it can become complex. Fourth, and final, one must use the item for its intended purpose.  This does not mean the manufacturer specifications need to be followed explicitly. Rather, any use of an item outside of its original intent must be something a reasonable consumer might do.

In addition to remedies provided through such lawsuits, numerous states have enacted consumer protection laws to provide remedies for defects which do not wholly satisfy the elements above. Statutory remedies are provided for defects which merely render the commodity unusable as opposed to causing injuries or physical damage.  An example of such state statutes is the automobile “lemon laws.” Because a vehicle represents a huge investment, consumers stand to suffer considerable economic loss in the event the vehicle fails to operate properly.  It is wise to consult with a qualified attorney and explore one’s available remedies to a defective item purchase.