Today’s marketplace is full of consumer products to address almost any problem or need. However, not every product will perform as advertised. In some cases, these products can hurt their users. When this happens, manufacturers may face liability claims for the resulting injuries. But did you know this isn’t always the case? Here is what makes product liability a complex area of personal injury law.
Are Manufacturers Liable When a Defective Product Hurts Consumers?
In an article for Super Lawyers, Stewart J. Eisenberg makes it clear how complicated a product liability case can get. He looks for red flags when a potential client approaches him about an incident. How did the product malfunction? Was the product used for its intended purpose? When did the injury occur? Was the user familiar with the risks of using that product? Considering the difficulty and expense of product liability cases, these answers are critical.
Factors that Matter in Pennsylvania Product Liability Law
In Pennsylvania, a product liability claim against a manufacturer can be based upon negligence, strict liability and/or a breach of warranty:
- In a negligence claim, a plaintiff must prove that a manufacturer’s misconduct led to the plaintiff’s injuries. They can do this by proving the manufacturer owed the plaintiff a legal duty, which was breached. That breach must be the “proximate cause” of the plaintiff’s injury, and that injury must have resulted in “actual damages”.
- In a strict liability claim, a manufacturer’s negligence or intent is not a factor. If that company released an unsafe product, it could be liable for resulting injuries. The plaintiff must prove the item was defective by showing the product’s dangers are unreasonable to an ordinary consumer. This can also be done if the plaintiff can show that a product’s hazards are outweighed by its utility .
- In a breached warranty claim, if a product’s implied or written guarantee is breached, a consumer can seek damages. A product usually comes with a written guarantee of its fitness to be used—an express warranty. In the absence of a written express warranty, the law creates “implied” warranties as well. The Pennsylvania Uniform Commercial Code says that a product must be in sellable condition and perform its purpose without injuring consumers. If the express or implied warranty is breached, manufacturers may be liable for damages.
Still Have Product Liability Questions?
Though product liability can be a complex area of law, our attorneys have attained successful settlements and verdicts for our clients. At Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., our experience may guide victims to the results they need. Contact us for a free initial consultation at (215) 546-6636.