Defective Products: What You Should Know

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You sometimes hear about products liability cases on the evening news whether it is exploding tires that cause rollover accidents or the McDonald’s coffee case.  However, product liability cases can be very complicated and technical.

Three Types of Suits

Product liability is a subset of tort law, and it involves the legal liability incurred by a manufacturer or seller for putting out defective merchandise. Consumers expect that the products they buy and use are safe – and when they are not, that is when product liability lawsuits arise.

There are three general types of product liability suits. They are (1) design defect, where a product is unreasonably dangerous as designed, even if used exactly as intended; (2) manufacturing defect, where a subset of a product’s run encountered problems and was thus manufactured in an incorrect and dangerous manner; and (3) failure to warn or marketing defect, where a manufacturer fails to warn the consumer of dangers inherent in their product even if used exactly as intended.

An example of a design defect case would be tobacco products – they are intended to be smoked and inhaled, yet they can be extremely dangerous. An example of a manufacturing defect case would be if a machine broke mid-production, and a small part of a product’s run was not put together properly. Both of these sorts of lawsuits can only be brought against a manufacturer, simply because a seller or trader has no input on manufacture or design of a product. By comparison, a failure to warn case  can be brought against manufacturer or seller – if a product has sharp blades, for example, a seller can be negligent by not warning a consumer of such dangers.

Strict Liability

Some states, South Carolina included, have adopted the Restatement of Torts 2d Sec. 402, which sets out the standard of strict product liability. Strict liability is when someone can be held liable for harm they have caused even without malice or intent.

To win a strict product liability case, a plaintiff must prove only that the product was defective, and that the product caused their injury. It is important to remember that even if the manufacturer and/or seller has exercised all the care they possibly could, if you can prove their product was the cause of your injury, they will nonetheless be liable.

There are only two real defenses to strict liability in South Carolina. One is for the defendant to argue that their product was modified from its original usage. The other is that the plaintiff misused the product. Both of them speak to foreseeability – that is, if a product is modified or used in an incorrect manner after it leaves the manufacturer’s hands, the way it is misused may not be foreseeable enough for the manufacturer to be liable for any harm.

Contact A Product Liability Attorney

When you have been injured, the last thing you want is to have to navigate legal red tape to get the compensation you need. Callihan & Syracuse can help. We are experienced in this type of litigation, and we will do our very best for you. Contact us for a free consultation today.