When you purchase a product, you trust that it is safe for its intended use. Most of us probably don’t think about that trust very often, but it’s a necessary part of modern life. A bevy of Massachusetts and federal laws regulate manufacturers, sellers and others in an effort to keep their products safe.
Unfortunately, all too often, unsafe products slip through the system and consumers are injured. When this happens, the injured can draw on a legal theory known as product liability to recover compensation for their damages, including medical expenses, pain and suffering and more.
Product liability is a complex area of the law. It recognizes three main categories of product defects:
- Defects of design: These are defects that occurred within the design stage, making the finished product unsafe.
- Defects of manufacturing: These defects occurred in the manufacturing of the product. The design itself may be sound, but some defect in the materials or construction made the product unsafe for consumers.
- Defects of marketing: These defects occur when an otherwise safe product is marketed with faulty instructions or insufficient safety warnings that make it unsafe.
Who may be held liable?
Another important point about product liability is that it recognizes a wide range of parties that may be held liable. Nearly any party along the stream of commerce can be held liable after a consumer is injured by a defective product. This means the company that designed the product, the company that manufactured it, the wholesaler that distributed it, the retail store that sold it — all can potentially be held liable.
This broad list of potentially liable parties is important for several reasons. For one thing, it gives every company an incentive to make sure their products are safe, and allows them to be held liable when they fail to do so. For another, it maximizes an injured person’s chances for recovering compensation for their damages.
For instance, imagine a consumer who was injured when a defective car tire exploded, causing a car crash. They try to file a lawsuit against the retail store that sold them the faulty tire, but find that the retailer has gone out of business. Fortunately, they can still hold the manufacturer accountable, and possibly other parties as well.
Because this area of the law is so complex, it is a good idea for the injured and their families to seek out help from attorneys with experience in defective product cases. Attorneys can help the injured and their families understand how the law may apply to the facts of their case.