Product Liability: What You Need to Know

product liability
License: Creative Commons 3 – CC BY-SA 3.0                        Creator: NY – 

Makers and sellers of consumer products come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are major manufacturing corporations that have well-known “household” names.  Others are small businesses, often privately-held, and difficult to identify.  Still others may be foreign companies exporting products into this country.  When someone is hurt due to a product defect or malfunction, where do you start?  How do you even begin to untangle the modern manufacturing and distribution chain to find the original source of a dangerous product?  Here are some key facts about “product liability” law.

Fortunately, the American legal system, through many aspects of product liability law, recognizes that liability might extend to a number of different companies involved in the sale of a defective product.  Liability in such cases often extends from the original manufacturer right down the chain to the ultimate retail seller.  This means that even if the original manufacturer is hard or impossible to identify, other companies involved in the marketing and sale of the product may be liable for an injury.  This can include the end-of-the-line retailer, such as a “big box store” where a consumer bought an item on a weekend afternoon.  An older legal term, still applicable in some instances today, refers to placing or moving a product in “the stream of commerce.”  Liability for a defective product might, under certain circumstances, apply to any seller of that product in the stream.

Yet, even when a responsible party can be found, the challenges remain daunting.  There are a number of separate and distinct legal claims that might be pursued.

  • “Strict liability” allows a legal claim without showing negligence or actual knowledge of the defect. This often occurs when a particular unit of an otherwise safe product leaves the factory with a defect.
  • “Failure to warn” claims, on the other hand, focus on the company’s knowledge of a design defect and failure to alert consumers.
  • A “breach of warranty” claim may need to be considered in some instances. For example, when a product does not satisfy what a reasonable consumer would expect it to do without causing an injury, an implied warranty may have been breached.

Beyond the legal claims, several other hurdles remain.  An injured person’s own conduct will be closely scrutinized.  Did they use the product correctly?  Did they have the appropriate age, experience and wisdom to use it at all?

In addition, product liability claims are difficult and time-consuming to pursue.  The trial lawyers at Decof, Decof & Barry, P.C. often handle such legal cases.  We also use “contingent fee” arrangements, so you don’t pay any fee unless we are successful on your behalf.  If you or a loved one has been hurt by what you believe is a defective product, we can provide experienced and skilled advice and representation about your options.

Video Profile

Decof, Decof & Barry

Schedule a Free Consultation

We work for clients on a contingency fee arrangement, which means you pay no legal fee or costs unless we obtain a verdict or settlement for you.

Firm News and Events
Decof, Decof & Barry Recognized among Best Law Firms by U.S. News – Best Lawyers®
Read More
Attorneys of Rhode Island Law Firm Decof, Decof & Barry Named Super Lawyers & Rising Stars
Read More
Michael P. Quinn, Jr. Wins Record Verdict in Medical Malpractice Case in Rhode Island
Read More
From our Blog
How to File a Premises Liability Claim for an Office Accident

January 9, 2018

With the average working American spending up to 40 or more hours at their place of employment each week, it should come as no surprise that workplace accidents occur frequently. Sometimes accidents are just that, accidents. Other times, those accidents are the result of the negligence of your employer or third parties. In whatever the…

Read More

Holiday Travel: What You Need to Know about Personal Injury Claims

December 26, 2017

Planes, trains, and automobiles. Taxis, Ubers, and Lyfts. North, south, east and west. During the holidays, Americans travel by many different methods in various directions. Unfortunately, problems – big and small – can follow.  From pedestrian collisions at the airport to falls at...

Read More

Can Social Media Impact Your Personal Injury Claim?

November 21, 2017

If you have a personal injury or medical malpractice case (or, if one day you might have one), your social media postings and online activity could unravel even the strongest claim. It is now a frequent occurrence for an injury victim’s posts or social media activity to negatively impact their lawsuit. Nearly every personal injury lawyer…

Read More

Contact form