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Product Liability Law: Keeping Consumers Safe from Defective Products

Winning a product liability case may be more difficult than you expect. Tennessee personal injury attorneys at Gilreath & Associates discuss how to determine if you have a valid injury claim.

Every year in the United States, thousands of consumers are injured by products that are considered defective or dangerous. Product liability law is designed to protect consumers like you and me from defective marketplace goods. This law holds manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and vendors liable for damages caused by their products.
In order for a person to sue under product liability law, the defective or dangerous product in question must have been sold in the marketplace. This ruling holds anyone in the distribution process accountable. Frequently, defective product cases involve retail products, but can extend to anything that can be sold.

Reasons for Defective Product Lawsuits

Product liability lawsuits can be filed for a number of reasons depending on the laws in your particular state. Below are three of the most common motives why people file a claim:

  • Marketing – Deception in marketing is often associated with improper labeling of the product, as well as not properly warning about known dangers involving the manufactured good. You may often see labels that seem senseless. (For example, a knife with a "Keep out of reach of children" label or a coffee cup with a "Contains hot contents" label.) Hopefully, everyone already knows this; however, if the manufacturer does not protect themselves in various ways through this labeling, they can be held liable.

  • Design – If there is some flaw in the design of the product that has made it unsafe, then a defective product lawsuit can be filed again the product's design. The flaw typically occurs in the beginning stages in the product's design. The plaintiff must prove that manufacturers should have been known the product was dangerous or flawed even in these very early stages.

  • Manufacturing – Liability can also arise from a flaw that results during the manufacturing or assembly process. An example of this would be a careless worker who did not assemble the product properly, or a faulty assembly process. Once again, the burden of proof in this type of case rests on the plaintiff and their attorney.

The elements that a plaintiff must prove in order to win a product liability claim are varied according to the jurisdiction. Proving more than one theory of liability may be possible.

Type of Product Liability

Below are three elements within a product liability case that a plaintiff may try to prove:

  • Negligence – In proving negligence, the plaintiff must show that the party or parties responsible for putting the product into the marketplace were somehow careless or negligent. During the manufacturing or distribution process, the defendant should have known there was an issue with the product being fit for its probable uses. The claimant must also prove they were directly harmed due to this negligence.

  • Breach of warranty – This term refers to the seller failing to fulfill the terms of a claim or promise represented in the warranty. A seller must stand behind the claims or warranties concerning their products sold.

  • Strict liability – This kind of liability, upheld by certain states, indicates that plaintiffs only have to prove that a product was defective. One that fact has been established, the manufacturer is liable for damages, regardless of whether the design, manufacturing and marketing of the good was properly done.

Tennessee Defective Product Tests

Every state and jurisdiction is different when it comes to product liability law. In the state of Tennessee, we have several important doctrines represented that you do not see in other jurisdictions. For instance, in our state, we have something called the "Consumer Expectation Test." This particular test means the plaintiff must prove that the product's performance was below reasonable safety expectations of the ordinary consumer. The Consumer Expectation Test can't be used, however, if the product is too complex and was not used for normal consumers such as a medical implant.

The Prudent Manufacturer Test is another Tennessee policy which basically states that the plaintiff may prove that the product was unreasonably placed into the marketplace. It states that a reasonable manufacturer or seller should never have placed it into the marketplace considering the product's dangerous qualities.

Building a viable case under the guidelines set forth by product liability law can be stressful and time consuming. Many of these manufacturers and vendors have deep pockets to protect themselves from fault. If you or a loved one fall victim to defective product, you will need to contact an experienced product liability attorney near you.

At Gilreath & Associates, our highly experienced and passionate personal injury attorneys are always available for consultation. Contact us today to discuss your case and find out if we can help you receive fair compensation. We are here to help guide you through this process every step of the way!

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