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Defective products give rise to product liability claims

When most Americans buy products on the market, they assume the products are safe for consumer use whether in California, Maryland or some other state. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Every year, products are recalled by their manufacturers or distributors because they exhibit some defect that threatens the safety or lives of consumers. This often occurs even after strict quality-control measures have been implemented by manufacturers. Notable examples include recent recalls involving Toyota and other auto companies because of defaultive ignition switches and airbags.

When someone is injured or dies after using a defective product, a product liability claim may arise. Like other tort claims, these claims are governed by the law of negligence, and plaintiffs must prove a defendant's negligence before they are entitled to compensation. Aside from manufacturers, wholesalers and retail store owners also can be named as defendants in a product liability lawsuit. Design, manufacturing and marketing are the three areas that can produce defects that injure consumers and thus can give rise to product liability lawsuits. A design defect is one that existed before the product was manufactured. Manufacturing defects arise at some point during manufacturing. Marketing defects include the failure to inform the consumers or the general public about how to use a product properly.

Simply put, any defective product that injures or kills an individual can lead to a product liability lawsuit and claim for compensation and damages. Under strict liability laws, plaintiffs are not required to prove that a defendant was careless. Once plaintiffs have proven that the product is defective, they may be entitled to awards and damages from the responsible parties.

Each state has its own laws regarding product liability. Anyone who has sustained an injury after using a defective product should check state laws to determine whether he or she is entitled to compensation.

Source: Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School, "Products liability," accessed on Oct. 19, 2014

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