Products liability is the area of tort law that deals with a manufacturer's or seller's liability for injuries suffered by a purchaser, user, or bystander as a result of a defective product. Products liability may involve products ranging from the low-tech, such as pajamas, to the high-tech, such as antilock brakes. Products liability is premised on the principle that a person who introduces a product into the stream of commerce owes a duty of care, not only to the person who first purchases the product, but also to anyone else who might foreseeably come into contact with it.
Types of Liability
Products liability is generally based on one of three theories: strict liability, negligence, or breach of warranty. Most states impose strict liability on the manufacturer or seller of a product that is defective in a way that makes the product unreasonably dangerous. Strict liability means that the manufacturer or seller is liable for injuries caused by an unreasonably dangerous defective product, even if he or she used all possible care in the preparation and sale of the product.
In states that do not impose strict liability for defective products, aninjured person can recover for injuries caused by a defective product if they can show that the manufacturer was negligent, or breached a warranty. Negligence means that the manufacturer or seller did not act with reasonable care to ensure the safety of the product. The difference between strict liability and negligence is that, under a negligence standard, a person will not be liable for a defect if he or she took all reasonable care to avoid or detect the defect, while under strict liability, if there was an unreasonably dangerous defect in the product, no amount of care will constitute a defense.
Even in states that impose strict liability, an injured party can recover on a theory of negligence if the evidence will support it. Which theory is relied on is important in the calculation of damages: damages are limited to compensatory damages in cases of strict liability or breach or warranty, while both compensatory and punitive damages may be available in negligence cases.
Types of Defects
To recover in a products liability action, an injured party must first establish that a product was defective when it left the defendant's control. There are three types of defects.
EXAMPLE - HAIR DRYER
KEEP AWAY FROM WATERDANGER -AS WITH MOST ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES, ELECTRICAL PARTS IN THIS DRYER AREELECTRICALLY LIVE EVEN WHEN SWITCH IS OFF. TO REDUCE RISK OF DEATH BY ELECTRIC SHOCK: 1 ALWAYS "UNPLUG IT" AFTER USE. 2 DO NOT PLACE OR STORE WHERE DRYER CAN FALL OR BE PULLED INTO TUB, TOILET, OR SINK. 3 DO NOT USE WHILE BATHING. 4 DO NOT USE NEAR OR PLACE IN WATER. 5 IF DRYER FALLS INTO WATER, UNPLUG IMMEDIATELY. DO NOT REACH INTO WATER.