California Laws for Defective Products
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento products liability lawyer. California is one of the most consumer friendly states. It adheres to the legal doctrine of strict liability that holds a company or a person liable for damages due to a defective product whether or not negligence has occurred. Liability in this instance involves all persons or companies from the manufacturer through to distributors and retailers. Even though proving negligence is not mandatory, the plaintiff (the person who was injured) must prove the product was defective.
What Is Product Liability?
Product liability law involves responsibility for dangerous products or those that are defective. It ranges from auto defective products to various medical devices and drugs. Consumers have the right to expect safe products. When that expectation is not met, the consumer can claim damages from the manufacturer or anyone in the design, assembly or marketing of the product. This involves the concept of vertical privity, which says that those in a vertical hierarchy such as the manufacturer down to the distributor are all responsible for the defective product.
Under product liability law, a product defect that makes the product dangerous must be proven. The types of product defect reflect where they fit in when bringing a product to market. They are:
- Design: This is the stage where a product is designed to meet its end goal. Design precedes manufacture and involves a defect in the planning stage for that product. One aspect of design defectiveness is if there was an alternate way to design the product without a risk. If there was, the plaintiff needs to show that the manufacturer would have been able to use an alternative design at a non-exorbitant cost. In addition, the final goal of a product’s design would be intact.
- Manufacturing Process: Manufacturing defects can occur during the assembly and manufacture of a product. Such defects, causing injury to a consumer when the product is used for the reason it was manufactured, put the onus on the manufacturer to pay for injuries a consumer suffered. Even if care was taken to build a product in a way so as to avoid defects, the fact that defects were present makes the manufacturer responsible for financial loss associated with the injuries.
- Marketing Defects: Marketing defects involve post-production marketing, such as inadequate safety warnings, poor labeling or lack of necessary instruction. Even if a product was designed flawlessly and the manufacture of the product was done so as not to impose a risk to a consumer, lack of instructions or warnings can still result in liability. A manufacturer must provide instructions on how to use a product that are clear, helping consumers to avoid danger during use and also warn the consumer if dangers are present. Generally, warnings are considered to be necessary when a product has the ability to be dangerous, the manufacturer is aware of the danger and it exists even if a product is used as intended and the danger is not obvious.
Responsibility for a Defective Product
The burden of negligence in some products liability cases lies with the defendant. In such liability cases, the fact that negligence must have been involved for the defect to be present puts the burden on the defendant to prove there was no negligence. Normally the plaintiff (the injured party) would need to prove that negligence was involved.
Under strict liability, the same sort of situation occurs. Here the logic is that if the defect exists, negligence must have existed. This makes it easier for plaintiffs to be compensated for injuries due to defective products.
Statutes of Limitation in California for Product Liability
According to the statutes of limitation in premises liability in California, claims can be filed two years after discovery if the product caused injuries. If the product caused property damage, you have three years from the time it was discovered that the product caused the damage.
Sacramento Products Liability Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento products liability lawyer. Product liability covers a wide range of products. What they have in common is that they are expected to be free of harmful defects that can result in injuries. If you have been victimized by a harmful product or a member of your family has suffered an injury, call (916) 921-6400. I am available to offer you advice that is friendly and free. I can also be reached at (800) 404-5400.
The trial lawyers who belong to the Million Dollar Advocates forum have a proven record of legal verdicts or settlements of a minimum of one million dollars, and I am honored to belong to this forum in California.
Please look over my site, autoaccident.com, to discover a wide range of information about motor vehicle accidents and personal injuries.
I have served the public as a personal injury lawyer from 1982, representing injury victims in Sacramento and Northern California in acquiring just compensation for their traumatic injuries or for the loss of a loved one through a wrongful death.
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