Product liability law is the law that holds the manufacturers, distributors, retailers, suppliers and other individuals involved in the supply liable for any damage or injury that may be caused by the product. All these entities are expected to meet the set standards of which breaching may lead to legal actions. The main idea behind the product liability law is to protect consumers from defective or low quality products that may be harmful to them.
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There are four major claims that can be made under this law. These include the manufacturing, warnings, designs, and failure to recall. An individual can claim compensation from an organization in case it fails to meet any of these specifications. In some cases, a product may be contaminated during the manufacturing or processing exercise. As a result, this may lead to serious injury or even death to the consumer.
In the product liability law, strict liability implies that the manufacturer will be held responsible for the defect caused by the product even if the defect does not result from negligence. However, the issue of strict liability resulted in controversies rising from the fact that the manufacturer could be sued in the presence of negligence. Strict liability has however been adapted where manufacturers are liable for any damage rising from their products despite whether it arose from negligence or fault. In this case, negligence implies the failure of an organization or manufacturer to observe obvious measures to avoid injuring a person to whom they are liable to provide such care.
When a defective product (that may be unreasonably unsafe) leads to an injury to an individual, one has a legal right to claim against the company that manufactured, designed, leased, furnished, sold or distributed the product (Stearns 2001). This implies that the company will be liable for all these consequences and may therefore be forced to compensate for the injuries caused by the product in question. The company will be liable for all the damages resulting from the use of the product by the consumers. In some cases, products may be extremely faulty, the fact which may lead to a serious injury to the person using the product. This raises a need for rigid measures in order to avoid such cases.
Previously, the product liability law employed the liability without fault principle. In this case, the manufacturer was not liable for any damage without a defect on the product. A defect was a precondition for the manufacturer to be held liable for the damages caused by a defective product.
Product liability employs the liability without fault principle in its implementation. In this case, the manufacturer is held responsible for the injuries caused by the product defects regardless of whether the defects resulted from intention or fault (Stearns, 2001). It is also important to note that the manufacturer cannot be held liable if there is no defect on the product. The product must be defective for the manufacturer to be held responsible for the defect caused.
In the product liability law, the term “product” refers to tangible movable products that are for processing or manufacturing (Stearns, 2001). Therefore, intangible property like services, software, and electricity are not covered by the law. The law also does not cover products like minerals that are not processed artificially. The product must be attributable to a certain cause.
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The product liability law strictly covers all the people who put their names, brands among other identifications for the products. For instance, any person selling a product using his or her brand or putting his or her name on the product will be recognized as the manufacturer of the product. In this case, sales agencies that are socially identified with the products are held responsible for the products through this law. Therefore, this person will be responsible for any damage that may be caused by the product.
In the product liability law, the term defect implies the lack of safety in the product that can cause injury to property, life, or body (Stearns, 2001). The term defect therefore implies poor quality on the products. The law therefore views defective products as those that do not provide safety, which they are expected to provide. For instance, manufacturers are expected to provide adequate instructions and warnings in order to prevent any accident that may result from the product (Arundel, 2010). Failure to do so, the manufacturer fails to meet the legal prescriptions on the nature of the product. He or she will therefore be held responsible for any damages that arise from the defects. The product liability law requires the manufacturers to give elaborative directions on the use of the product whose mishandling can cause damage to the consumer. They are also expected to make conspicuous warnings on the products that may pose a danger to the user.
The law also considers the time the product is delivered to the consumer in specifying the liability of the manufacturers. This takes into consideration the circumstances under which the manufacturer delivered the products. For instance, the manufacturer is required to take into consideration the safety levels required in the society. This also involves the technological capabilities regarding safety regulations and the possibility of alternative designs (Goldman & Sigismund, 2010). Therefore, manufacturers will be held responsible for any damage caused by bad designs of the product when there is possibility of a safer design. Otherwise, the manufacturer will not be liable for bad designs in case there is no other alternative.
There are some specific cases when the product liability law provides exemptions. For instance, the law recognizes the development-risk defense exemption. Under this exemption, the manufacturers will not be held liable for the damage if they provide adequate evidence that convince that the scientific or technological level during the time when the product was supplied in the market was not adequate to detect or prevent the occurrence of such defects (Goldman & Sigismund, 2010). It is important to note that the existing knowledge does not imply the knowledge held by individual persons or entities, but collective knowledge that is generally present in the society. Therefore, the manufacturer will not be exempted from liability if their product’s defect is because of lack of technological capacity that has already been realized but not incorporated in the organization.
The product liability law also recognizes the possibility of exemption from the liability. The providers of the raw materials are liable for the damages that may be caused by the products. However, the manufacturer of the raw material will not be held liable for the damage if they prove that the damage is attributable to the assembling manufacturer who assembles the raw material with other product, and that the manufacturer of the raw material is not negligent in any way (Fairgrieve, 2007). In this case, the assembling manufacturer will be held responsible for the damage resulting from non-compliance with the specifications.
The law also requires the victims of the product defects to report the damages in the specified period. The legal representatives or the injured person is expected to report within a period of three years after any of these get informed about the damage (Stapleton, 1994). In other words, any delays may lead to a ruling against the victim. Victims are therefore advised to report any cases of damage as soon as the damage occurs in order to allow investigations.
From the above discussion, it is clear that product liability is very important tool in promoting consumer well being. The law ensures that the manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, or importers provide products that do not pose any damage to the consumer. All these entities are expected to meet the set standards of which breaching may lead to legal actions. The main idea behind the product liability law is to protect consumers from defective or low quality products that may be harmful to them. Through this law, consumers can be able to make claims against manufacturers for any damage incurred from their products. This law has promoted provision of safe products in the market hence minimizing cases of damages arising from defective products. In the product liability law, strict liability implies that the manufacturer will be held responsible for the defect caused by the product even if the defect does not result from negligence. However, the issue of strict liability resulted in controversies rising from the fact that the manufacturer could be sued in the presence of negligence.
Arundel, P. (2010). International Product Law Manual. Netherlands: Kluwer Law International.
Fairgrieve, D. (2007). Product Liability in Comparative Perspective. USA: Cambridge University Press.
Goldman, A.J., & Sigismund, W.D. (2010). Business Law: Principles and Practices. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.
Stapleton, J. (1994). Product Liability. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Stearns, D.W. (2001). An Introduction to Product Liability Law. Web.