Who Is Liable for an Injury Caused by a Defective Product?

When we purchase a product, we trust that the manufacturer, retailer, and distributor have ensured that it is safe to use. If there are any potential dangers when using the product, the manufacturer must provide proper warnings and instructions. Unfortunately, defective products can reach consumers—leading to serious injuries. If you’ve been injured by a defective product, you have the right to file a lawsuit against any party in the chain of distribution.

Types of Defective Products

There are three types of product defects recognized under California law: manufacturing defects, design defects, and failure to warn.

  • Manufacturing defects are errors that occur during the manufacturing process, rendering the product unsafe. For example, a snack manufacturer may accidentally taint a batch of food with a toxic substance in the factory.
  • Design defects occur when the product’s design is inherently unsafe and designed poorly. You will need to prove that a safer design would have been possible. For example, if a hair straightener is prone to catching fire when it reaches a certain temperature, the product is inherently defective in its design.
  • Failure to warn claims involve a manufacturer’s failure to warn consumers about a potential safety issue with the product. For example, if an infant’s toy has small parts that could be swallowed, the product’s label must include a warning about this hazard.

Strict Liability and Defective Products

Under California law, defective product lawsuits are subject to a strict liability standard. This means that you do not need to prove that the manufacturer was negligent in order to file a lawsuit against the entity. However, you will need to provide sufficient evidence that the product is defective.

To secure compensation for a defective product injury, you will need to prove four key facts in your lawsuit.

  • You were injured or suffered damages.
  • The product was defective in some way.
  • The defective product caused your injury.
  • You were using the product as the manufacturer intended.

Liable Parties in a Defective Product Claim

You can name any party along the chain of distribution in a product liability lawsuit. This includes the manufacturer, the distributor or wholesaler, and the retailer. You can file a claim against these parties even if you did not buy the product directly, or even if you did not use the product. If you were hit by a flying blade from your father’s lawnmower, for example, you can still file a product liability claim even if you were not the owner.

The manufacturer is at the beginning of the chain of distribution and will likely be liable for any defects that occur during its development. Additionally, any outside consultants or contractors who were involved in the product design or manufacture could also be named in your lawsuit.

Although a retailer may not be responsible for the defect itself, it could be liable for selling a dangerous product. Any middlemen involved in the distribution of the product may be liable as well. To determine who to name in your lawsuit, speak with a California product liability attorney as soon as possible.

An attorney will conduct an in-depth investigation into your case to determine the source of the defect. He or she may consult with expert witnesses who can provide further insight into the dangerous product. Your lawyer will also represent you in your claim, handling negotiations and representing you in civil court. Contact a California product liability attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.