Product Liability


In an ever more litigious society, it is not unusual for cases involving product liability to considerably increase throughout the past two decades. In today’s world, product liability is an exceptionally bona fide business risk. Companies, even those with excellent product safety procedures and policies, cannot afford to seriously disregard the possibility of product liability. Product liability is all-encompassing, putting numerous diverse types of businesses at risk.

Product liability holds distributors, manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, and others who make products publicly available liable for the damages caused by those products.

Product liability affects not just those who manufacture products. Retailers who put the product in the market are also liable as a seller. As such, the product liability claims may entail legal proceedings just to determine the facts and the legal consequence. However, the majority of states in America presently pass through accountability for retailers, which grant some level of protection against claims of product liability.

Overview of Product Liability

Product Liability is generally identified as liability for damages in case a defect in the delivered product, a property, a body or life of another individual, as well as a third party, whether juridical or natural person not directly consuming or using the product, is injured (Cornell University Law School).

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As such, the manufacturer, processor, retailer, importer or any one whose name, etc. is placed on the product as business is responsible for damages to the injured individual. The product may be any processed or manufactured movable property.

Immovable properties and incorporeal property, such as electricity, software, information, services, etc.

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, are therefore not covered by the essence of term. Defect does not essentially indicate that the product lacks the quality standard, but indicates a lack of necessary safety in the product which may cause the impairment to property, body or life. Defect is generally described as lack of safety that the product should offer, taking into account the customarily accepted mode of product application, the time when the manufacturer or retailer distributed the product, the character of the product, and other details pertaining to the product.

The factors that the court will take into consideration when making a determination of product defect consists of: why and how the product has been marketed; product packaging; the application of any mark corresponding to the product; warning about, or instructions for, refraining from doing or undertaking anything in or with the product; what might logically be expected to be done with it; and the time when it was distributed. Majority of States practice the stream of commerce model of liability.

Therefore, a retailer or any other company can be held accountable for damages to the customer if it involved itself in introducing the product into the stream of commerce. The retailers may still be held accountable when they are aware or has reasons to believe that one of the products that they sell generates potential risk, and they did not examine with the manufacturer or notify their customers of the danger. However, the retailers are considered not to have fully performed their duty by simply warning their customers of the probable risk or danger related with the product.

The retailers must as well decline to sell the product, if they expect that the buyer will take no notice of their warning and utilize the product in a manner that could be dangerous to other people. In addition, to avoid product liability, retailers must discontinue from selling hazardous products to particular customers, including children.

Defense against Product Liability by the Manufacturer

Several states have passed wide-ranging products liability laws.

Depending on the jurisdiction within which the claim is based, product liability actions can be based on strict liability, negligence, or breach of fitness warranty. The legal provisions of different product liability laws can be extremely diverse that, for voluntary use of the laws by the States, the United States Department of Commerce has promulgated a Model Uniform Products Liability Act (Cornell University Law School). There are a number of legal defenses available to a manufacturer against a product liability claims. The defenses, as a rule, arise when:

  1. At the time of delivery by the manufacturer, no defect existed.
  2. When the product was a component of a completed product and the defect is attributable to the packaging or design of the completed goods, or warnings or instructions integrated in those completed goods, then the component manufacturer will not be liable.
  3. At the time the manufacturer delivered the goods, the defect that occurred could not have been discovered in view of the fact that at that time there was no enough scientific or technical knowledge.

The only cause of the defect was the result of manufacturer’s conformity with a mandatory standard set by State laws. However, it should be noted that when omissions or acts of the injured person contributed to the harm, the court can lessen the amount of reward due appropriately. In addition, the manufacturer of the part or unprocessed material shall not be responsible for damages if they can establish that the defect is considerably attributable to conformity with the instructions in relation to the specifications fixed by the assembling manufacturer who integrates the part or unprocessed material into another product.

Cite this page

Product Liability. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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