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Understanding products liability in New Jersey

Consumers are entitled to safety in their homes, cars, workplaces and recreational areas unless warned otherwise. They should be able to trust the medicines they take, the food they eat and the products they use will not cause harm other than what is clearly suggested as possible. When something does go wrong and an injury results, it becomes a matter of products liability.

New Jersey courts are often the scene of lawsuits wherein an injured person is seeking compensation from a responsible manufacturer or supplier. Known as products liability claims, they can include any person or business along the supply chain for that product. When harm to a person or damage to property occurs, the investigation starts with the manufacturer of components and continues on through the assembler of the product itself, the wholesale supplier and the retail store owner where the product was purchased. Each piece of this supply chain can bear some responsibility for a dangerous product reaching a consumer. Usually we think of products as a tangible piece of personal property. Products liability can, however, encompass intangibles such as a gas, pets, a structure considered to be real estate and writings such as maps or navigation charts.

While negligence might be a factor in some jurisdictions, generally products liability is considered to be a strict liability offense. In other words, there is no dependence on a degree of carefulness by a defendant. If a plaintiff proves a defect exists that caused harm, it doesn't matter whether a manufacturer or supplier was careful. He or she will be liable.

There isn't a federal products liability law. Most states have their own products liability statutes, and they can be diverse. The Uniform Commercial Code, Article 2 provisions cover implied and express warranties that are applicable in some cases. Experience in the legal principles that apply in New Jersey is helpful if someone seeks compensation in our state based on a defective or dangerous product.

Source: Cornell University Law School, "Products liability" accessed Jan. 29, 2015

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Gary D. Ginsberg is a Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who has been recognized as an expert in litigating cases in the courts of New Jersey.

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