Skip to main content

A product manufacturer whose product causes harm to a consumer – or in many cases multiple consumers – is liable for the resultant damages. Under various theories of liability, victims of dangerous or defective products can hold the manufacturer responsible for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, or any other damages they suffered.

Who is responsible if a product causes harm?

In most cases, if you used a product as intended but it caused you harm, the manufacturer is the party liable for your injuries.

But depending on the situation, there are different parties you may name as defendants. These could include:

  • Distributor
  • Marketer
  • Salesperson
  • Retailer
  • Repair or service company

What are the theories of product liability?

You can bring product liability actions under several theories of liability, depending on your state’s law.

  • Negligence: A claim for negligence requires the injured party (plaintiff) to prove several essential elements.
  1. The defendant owed the injured party a duty of care (e.g., the manufacturer was supposed to design a safe product).
  2. The defendant breached the duty (e.g., the manufacturer did not test the product).
  3. The breach of that duty caused the injured party’s harm (e.g., the product, when turned on, catches fire).
  4. The injured party suffered actual damages (e.g., the consumer sustained burns and resultant medical bills).
  • Strict Liability: This theory essentially removes the injured party’s obligation to prove that the manufacturer or seller of the product was negligent, i.e., the manufacturer did not need to know of the defect. Instead, plaintiffs must prove:
  1. The plaintiff was using the product in its intended manner.
  2. The product caused the consumer’s injuries.
  3. The product was essentially the same as it was when it left the manufacturer/seller (i.e., the injured party did not change the product.)
  4. The injured party was unaware of the defect at the time of the injury. If the injured party knew about the defect but continued to use the product, even if she used it properly, the claim may be barred.
  • Breach of Warranty: Plaintiffs may be able to bring a claim under a theory that there was an express or stated warranty or that there was an implied understanding that the product would do what it advertised without causing harm.

Important Considerations in Bringing a Product Liability Action

First, in every state, there are specific limits on the time an injured party has to bring a product liability action, called the statute of limitations. Waiting too long can prevent you from even bringing the claim.

Second, every case needs evidence. Be sure to gather and keep evidence such as the product itself, any packaging or warning materials you still have, medical bills and reports, witness statements, and anything else you deem relevant. Your attorney can help you collect other evidence that might be in the manufacturer’s possession.

It is important to contact a product liability attorney as soon as possible to ensure you gather all necessary evidence and file your claim properly and in the allotted time. Primerus can help you find a product liability attorney in your area.