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The basics of product liability lawsuits

Some residents of Burlington, New Jersey, may have wondered if their experience with a product could make for a product liability claim or lawsuit. The case law that makes up the current environment of product liability law was created over many years and continues to change. For example, a hundred years ago, product liability suits were uncommon. Today, laws and regulations to protect consumers take some responsibility off the buyer and place it on the manufacturer or distributor.

A product liability suit usually begins when someone is injured or experiences damages associated with the purchase or use of a product. The lawsuit may name the manufacturer as a defendant. Other possible defendants in product liability cases include distributors, resellers, retailers or any third-party business or individual associated with creating and bringing a product to market.

In most product liability cases, plaintiffs must prove two things to be successful. First, plaintiffs must prove that the injury occurred. Injuries can be proved through evidence such as photographs, testimony and medical records.

The next thing plaintiffs must prove is that there was a defect or issue with the product that was the cause of the injury. In many cases, the defect is a flaw in the actual design of the product, as is the case in many of the recent automobile recalls. Other types of defects include dangerous materials used in the manufacturer of the product, such as lead in children's toys. In some cases, the product is not defective, but is misrepresented.

Deciding whether a possible personal injury case exists, and what entities might be named as defendants, is the first step in seeking compensation for injury or damages. Understand the legal procedures involved can help individuals ensure they begin a personal injury case with the best possible foundation for success.

Source: The Edwardsville Intelligencer, "Understanding the extent of product liability," June 15, 2014

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