What Is the Difference Between Product Liability and Strict Liability?

Understanding the difference between product liability and strict liability is critical, especially for those who have experienced harm due to a defective product or a dangerous activity. These legal principles, while interconnected, have distinct roles in how they protect consumers and hold individuals or entities accountable.

Strict liability applies broadly, placing responsibility for harm on those involved in certain activities, regardless of whether they were at fault or negligent. Product liability, a subset of strict liability, narrows this focus specifically to manufacturers, retailers, and distributors of products, ensuring they are held accountable for any harm their products cause.

What Is Strict Liability?

Strict liability is a legal concept that imposes responsibility on a party regardless of fault or negligence. For example, the owner of a dog can be held strictly liable if the dog attacks and bites someone, even if the owner took all reasonable precautions to prevent such an incident.

What Is Product Liability?

Product liability, a subset of strict liability, specifically applies to manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers of products. It holds these entities responsible for any harm caused by defective or dangerous products. Victims of a defective product are entitled to file lawsuits against product manufacturers and recover compensation for their medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages.

There are three types of product defects: 

  • Manufacturing Defects: A manufacturing defect occurs when a product deviates from its intended design due to an error in the manufacturing process. This can result in a product that is less safe than what the consumer reasonably expects. For instance, a car with faulty brakes due to a manufacturing defect that causes an accident would fall under this category.
  • Design Defects: A design defect means there is an inherent flaw in the product’s design that makes it dangerous or unfit for its intended use. For example, a model of a car that is prone to tipping over during turns due to its design would be a design defect.
  • Failure to Warn: Failure to warn refers to situations where a manufacturer fails to provide adequate warnings or instructions about the product’s potential risks. An example would be a pharmaceutical company not including critical side effects on their drug’s packaging.

How to Prove a Product Liability Lawsuit

If you are the victim of a defective product, filing a product liability claim can provide a path to justice. Although manufacturers are strictly liable for harm caused by product defects, there are facts that you will need to prove to win your lawsuit. 

First, you will need to show that the product was defective. Next, you will need to show that you suffered an injury or loss, then you will need to prove that the product defect is responsible for your injury or loss. Finally, you will need to establish that you were using the product as the manufacturer intended. 

What to Do If You Are Injured by a Defective Product

If you are injured by a defective product, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Retain all documentation related to your injury and the product, including medical reports, purchase receipts, and the product itself. 

Then, consult with a Bakersfield product liability lawyer who can assess your case and guide you on the best course of action. An attorney can represent your lawsuit and advocate aggressively for your right to maximum compensation. Schedule a free consultation as soon as possible to learn more about your legal options.