Consumers trust that items available on the market are safe to use, and when this trust is broken, product liability attorneys may be needed to help the victim. This area of law ensures manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and distributors are held responsible should a design or manufacturing defect cause injury. This area of law is extremely complex, so a victim may be overwhelmed if they try to file suit against a powerful company alone. Experienced personal injury lawyers are the best experts to consult for a case like this.
In the U.S., a victim may file a claim due to negligence or for strict liability. There are significant differences between the two, and product liability attorneys should be capable of handling both. To prove a claim of negligence, the victim must be able to show that the defendant was in violation of accepted industry standards. In total, the plaintiff must show four things:
- The plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff safe services or goods (a duty).
- The plaintiff must prove that the defendant violated that duty.
- The plaintiff must show that any injury or damages were a result of the violation of duty.
- The plaintiff must show that the injury or damages are quantifiable.
Proving negligence can be difficult, because it’s not always clear who is owed the duty or if the defendant was violating industry standards. Eventually, case law (MacPherson v. Buick Motor Co.) expanded the duty of safety to anyone who could be injured by a party’s actions. Product liability attorneys may also file suit using the concept of negligence per se. This legal stipulation asserts that a violation of the law may substitute for a violated duty. No matter the approach, proving negligence is usually something that only a legal expert can accomplish. It requires a great deal of evidence and knowledge of previous case law to put together a convincing suit.
Negligence claims have become increasingly difficult and expensive to show, because power manufacturers are better able to hide misconduct. Also, if an entire industry colludes to lower safety standards, they may not be technically responsible for any injuries caused. In the 1940s and 1950s, product liability attorneys fought this by filing suit using the idea of strict liability. This legal concept protects consumers better, because it does not require the victim to prove negligence. Many U.S. lawyers and courts agreed, at this time, that requiring a victim to show negligence was too harsh.
Under this legal concept, a manufacturer or designer may be responsible for any damages caused even if they were not negligent during manufacture or design. Using this legal doctrine, product liability attorneys have been able to improve consumer safety. Manufacturers and designers are now responsible for ensuring that their goods and services are inherently safe. This doctrine applies to anyone who may be foreseeably harmed by any manufacturing or design defects, including innocent bystanders. The case that cemented this doctrine, Greenman v. Yuba Power Products, is considered to be one of the most important consumer protection cases in history.
Using this knowledge of consumer protection law, a legal expert can help a victim receive restitution for their suffering.