A Primer on Product Liability

Written by: Fraser Turnbull

It’s always exciting to bring new products home and test them out, but what happens when that new gadget you’ve just bought turns out to have a dangerous defect that causes an injury to you or a family member? That’s where product liability law steps in.

Product liability is an area of the law where a manufacturer of a good owes a duty to the consumers of their products to ensure that there are no defects in the manufacture of the product which could give rise to personal injury in the ordinary course of use. If a consumer of a product is injured because of the product’s dangerous defect while using the product in an ordinary manner, the manufacturer can be held liable for damages.

Product liability claimants can base their claim in contract for breach of warranty, in tort for negligence, or plead both. This blog will look at product liability from the negligence perspective only.

Making a negligence claim for product liability involves proving the following steps:

1) Establish that the manufacturer owed you a duty of care;

2) That the manufacturer breached the standard of care; and

3) That the manufacturer’s breach caused the damages that you suffered.

Generally speaking, the first step of the test will usually be fulfilled because manufacturers owe a duty of care to consumers to provide safe products.

For the second step of the test, claimants generally have to prove either of the following to show that the manufacturer breached the duty of care:

(a) the manufacturer was either negligent in the design of the product; and/or

(b) the manufacturer failed to warn consumers about possible risks or dangers when using the product in order to be successful in their claim.

For the third and final step of the test, claimants have to prove that the manufacturer’s negligence caused the claimant’s injuries – i.e. using the product in a careless and reckless manner not intended by the manufacturer may protect the manufacturer from liability.

When making a product liability claim it is important to retain as much supporting evidence as possible, including the receipt or credit charge for the defective product, the name of the retailer you bought it from, and of course, the defective product itself.

This is a very brief primer on product liability law. If you or a family member have been injured by a defective product you should contact a personal injury lawyer to find out your legal options.

The information you obtain at this site (including this blog) is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult a lawyer for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as a lawyer-client relationship has been established.