Strict Product Liability: What to Do if You Are Injured by a Product
Often, in personal injury cases, an injury is caused by the malfunctioning of a defective product, such as when car brakes do not work properly, causing an accident, or when a young child’s toy contains small parts on which the child chokes. Many personal injury cases are based on proving that the party at fault was negligent. However, it may be difficult to prove that a manufacturer was negligent in making the product. The theory of strict liability allows an injured person to focus on the defectiveness of the injury-causing product, rather than trying to prove that the manufacturer was negligent.Strict Liability
In most personal injury cases, the behavior of the party at fault (defendant) is central to the case. The defendant will be liable if his or her behavior was below the standard of an ordinary reasonable person’s behavior. In strict liability cases, however, the injured party does not need to prove misconduct on the part of the defendant.
Strict liability means that a designer, manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of a defective product is liable to a person injured by their product, even if the designer, manufacturer, etc., was not negligent in trying to make the product safe.
To prevail in a strict liability case, a consumer must show three things:
- That the defendant (the designer, manufacturer, distributor, or retailer) manufactured, distributed, or sold the product;
- That the consumer was harmed; and
- That the design of the product was a substantial factor in causing harm to the plaintiff.
If all these elements are proven, the defendant will be strictly liable to the consumer for any harm caused by the defective product.Defenses
However, if the defendant can show that the benefits of the design outweighed its risks, the defendant may avoid strict liability. To determine whether this is the case, courts consider these factors:
- The gravity of potential harm;
- The likelihood of such harm;
- Whether there was a feasible alternative safer design;
- The cost of such an alternative design;
- The disadvantages of an alternative design; and
- Any other relevant factors.
The misuse of a product is a complete defense to strict liability, as long as the injury was solely caused by an unforeseeable abuse or alteration to the product after it left the manufacturer’s hands. If the alteration or abuse was not the sole cause of the injury, but was a contributing factor, it may be considered in making a comparative fault determination.
Proving the negligence of a big manufacturing or distribution company can be difficult, yet people are injured by their products every day. Bringing a strict product liability action can be the answer to that problem. Reach out to the San Jose personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. for a free consultation today at (408) 289-1417. We are prepared to help you immediately.