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Product Liability in California

california product liability

This post is about some basic information related to product liability in California. Under California law manufacturers, distributors and sellers of commercial products have a responsibility to consumers to ensure their products are safe for consumer use.

Product is considered defective in case it is more dangerous than a reasonable user would expect it to be under reasonably predictable circumstances. The product is defective in case the consumer is using it in an ordinary way for which it is intended, but it causes injury because of essential fault in the product itself. Though, if the consumer uses a product in a dangerous and unusual way, the product cannot be considered defective.

The examples of product liability claims can include unsafe children’s toys, defective autos and auto parts, faulty kitchen, defective motorcycle gear, appliances, defective pharmaceutical drugs, specialized equipment and tools for manufacturing and construction.

Types of Product Liability Claims in California

First, we will point out the types of product liability claims in California, then we will describe further details about each type. Here are the three main types of product liability claims in California:

  • Design Defect
  • Manufacturing Defect
  • Marketing and Advertising Defect (Includes Failure to Warn Claims)

We will describe details about each type of product liability claim below.

Design Defect

According to California product liability laws product is defective in case it fails to perform as safely as a consumer expects, and the risk of its danger outweigh the benefits of the design.

Defective designs have created dangerous products as child products, medical devices, safety products and much more. Defective design claims must include a proof that the whole product line is unsafe, regardless of the fact that the dangerous product was produced in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.

Manufacturing Defect

Manufacturing defect occurs when the product differs from the manufacturer’s specifications and design, or it differs from other units of the same product line.

Manufacturing defect can make a product too dangerous to use. Plaintiff must prove there was a flaw in the manufacturing process, and product was different from the manufacturer’s design and it was manufactured differently than the prototype.

Marketing and Advertising Defect (Includes Failure to Warn Claims)

A company can be liable for advertising a product for a purpose for which it was inappropriate or for failing to include proper warnings or instructions with the product.

Companies are responsible to market their products in a safe manner. Marketing a product without promoting off-label use of a product or sufficient warning labels are examples of a marketing defect.

Failure to Warn Claim

According to California strict product liability, a defendant who is aware that the consumer is using the product in a reasonably foreseeable manner that exposes him to a risk of injuries is obliged to warn the consumer of the risk of injury or harm.

The defendant can be found liable for a failure to warn when such failure could have altered the outcome. So, in case a typical consumer would have become aware of the risk of injuries or harm on his own, then the defendant can’t be found liable for failing to warn of an already-known hazard.

Who Can Be Held Responsible for Defective Products?

In California different parties in the distribution chain can be liable for a defective product. Defendants can include:

  • Product manufacturer  and designer
  • Distributor
  • Parties that assemble or install the product
  • Retailer

What Shall a Consumer Do in Case He Has Suffered Due to a Defective Product?

  • Seek medical help

The first thing a person must to do is see a doctor and receive sufficient treatment for his injuries.

  • Collect Evidence

Person must document the defective product by using a camera to photograph both his injures and the defective product.  In case anyone saw the accident, person must also record their testimony and contact information.

  • Store the product

 It is very important to stop using the defective product and put it with all labels and packaging in a safe place. In case a person is aware about the defect but is still using the product, he can lose his right to make a claim against the defendants.

Strict Liability and Negligence in California

The type of product liability claim determines what a person must prove for winning his case.

In some product liability claims a consumer must prove that the defective product’s distributor, manufacturer or seller was negligent. In others product liability claims a consumer is only required to prove that the product was defective. In product liability claims that are based on negligence, a person must establish that a distributor, manufacturer or seller owed a duty or responsibility to him as a consumer, and they breached that duty.

In product liability claims that are based on strict liability a person must only prove that the product that caused an injury to him was defective. Then distributor, manufacturer or seller must be able prove that the harm was due to abuse, modification or misuse of the product. So a person doesn’t have to prove that the company was negligent, only that the product was defective.

Compensation for Injuries

Consumer can recover damages for:

  • Economic damages.

These include costs of medical treatment, rehabilitation, nursing care and lost wages.

  • Non-economic damages.

These include pain and suffering that are difficult to value in terms of money. These damages are very subjective and usually depend on the harshness of the injury and the degree of care that the distributor, manufacturer or seller took to protect the consumer.

Elements the Plaintiff Must Prove During a Product Liability Lawsuit in California

Generally, a plaintiff must be able to establish the following elements, to prevail on a claim for products liability in California,

  • Defendant designed, distributed, manufactured, or sold a defective product
  • Product contained the defect when it left the defendant’s possession
  • Plaintiff used the product in a reasonably foreseeable manner
  • As a result of the defect the plaintiff suffered harm

You Can Hire a Product Liability Lawyer in California for Legal Assistance

Would you like to file a product liability lawsuit in California? KAASS Law can provide you with legal assistance with no up front or out of pocket cost to you! We can take a look into your situation and provide you with a free consultation. Get in touch with us now at 310-943-1171 or by filling out the form below.

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