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Understanding Product Liability Claims in California

When you buy a product, you expect it to be safe. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Products can have defects that make them unsafe and cause injuries or even death. These may qualify for product liability claims.

Understanding these claims can help you make better decisions about your purchases. It also makes you more aware of your rights when you need to contact a product liability claims attorney in Los Angeles.

What are Product Liability Claims?

In a nutshell, product liability claims are brought against a company by someone who has been injured by one of its products. These claims can be filed for injuries caused by defective or dangerous products. There are three kinds of product defects, namely:

Design Defects

When a product such as a car or an appliance has a design flaw that contributes to an accident or injury, it is considered defective. A design flaw could be anything from a structural issue to an inconsistency in manufacturing.

In California, the courts use two different tests to determine if a product is defective due to design:

  • The Risk/Benefit Test: This test is used when technical issues like cost, practicality, risk, or benefit must be considered to determine whether a product is defective due to design. For example, a court might consider whether it would be feasible to make a product safer without significantly increasing the cost of manufacturing it.
  • The Consumer Expectations Test: This test is only used when expert opinion is unnecessary to prove that a product is defective due to design. For example, a court might consider whether an everyday consumer would expect the product to perform safely when used in a reasonably foreseeable manner.

Manufacturing Defects

Products that have not been thoroughly tested for safety are more likely to have manufacturing defects. These defects can occur during the manufacturing process, when components are assembled, or when products are shipped from one location to another.

Under the theory of strict liability, even if the manufacturer took all appropriate precautions to create the product, a plaintiff may still seek compensation. The focus is on whether the product was defective, not on whether the manufacturer was negligent or otherwise at fault for the injury.

Marketing Defects

A product is considered defective if it has been marketed in a way that makes it unsafe for consumers. For example, if a toy is marketed as being safe for children under the age of three, but it contains small parts that can choke a child, the manufacturer can be held liable for any injuries caused by that product.

The Types of Product Liability Claims You Can Make

There are different types of product liability claims that you can make depending on the circumstances of your injury. Common claims include failure to warn, breach of warranty, and negligence. Here’s a closer look:

Failure to Warn

This type of claim typically arises when consumers suffer injuries due to not being warned about a product’s dangers or risks; these usually occur when the product has been mislabeled.

Breach of Warranty

A warranty guarantees that a product meets specific safety requirements or will perform a certain way. If a manufacturer fails to honor the warranty, they can be held liable for injuries caused by the product.

Negligence

A company can be held liable for negligence if it has failed to exercise reasonable care regarding its products’ design, manufacturing, or marketing.

Potential Defenses Against Product Liability Claims

Like how you and your personal injury lawyer will do everything to defend your case, the defendant will also do everything in their power to disprove your claim or minimize their liability. Here are two defenses that a defendant may use to deny liability:

The “Sophisticated User” Defense

To use this defense, the defendant must prove that you knew or should have known about the risks of using the product. For example, if you have experience with a particular type of product, the defendant might argue that you knew about its potential defects and dangers.

The Misuse Defense

To use this defense, the defendant must prove that you used the product in a way that was not reasonably foreseeable. For example, if you are injured while using a power tool to do something other than what it was intended for, the defendant could argue that you misused the product.

Product liability claims can be complex, and it’s essential to understand all the elements before you take legal action. By doing your research and working with a lawyer, you can increase the likelihood of receiving the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Haffner Law is a Los Angeles-based law firm that can assist you with product liability claims. If a defective product has injured you or someone you know, call us today.

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