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The Concept of Strict Product Liability

Until the tide began to turn in the 1960s, a person injured by a defective product who was seeking compensation had a tough row to hoe. They were required to prove that the manufacturer or supplier was negligent in the manufacture process at some point between product inception and the product reaching consumers—frequently a monumental and prohibitively expensive task. Many victims suffered while receiving zero compensation.

State legislatures eventually intervened and established strict product liability laws, which most states have today. Essentially, an injured person need only show that a product caused injury to them as a result of a product defect. Proving negligence on the part of the manufacturer, distributor, or seller was taken out of the equation. The goal was to restore fairness and improve product safety. So everybody in the supply chain of the product being sold is held responsible under the law, from the retailer, down thru any wholesalers, down to the manufacturer. Anybody who made money from the products sale is held responsible.

Here is what is required of plaintiffs:

• The plaintiff must show that a product was sold in a dangerous condition.
• The plaintiff must have been injured or incurred property damage due to the defective product.
• The product cannot be found “substantially” changed from the condition in which it was originally sold.

But if it is proven that the plaintiff used the product in a careless fashion or in a way for which it was not intended or continued to use it despite knowing about the defect, their case may be dismissed, or damages reduced by their own contributory fault.

Product defects include manufacturing defect, an imperfection limited to just one product (or a few); design defect, a flaw in the product’s blueprint that affects every product; and warning defect, inadequate warnings or instructions on proper product usage.

If you are injured by a defective product, contact a product liability attorney at Seufert Law to protect your rights.