When consumers purchase products, they do so with the assumption that the product is safe and that the manufacturer publishes warnings of any inherent risks. While this is true most of the time, manufacturers sometimes fall short of this promise. That's when California product liability laws come into play. There are three types of errors that can cause California product liability lawsuits: design defect, manufacturing defect or lack of warning.
Knowing which type of liability is responsible for an injury helps all involved parties move forward. If a product injures or kills someone in California due to the wrongdoing of the company that made the product, the victims have two years to file a lawsuit. If the product hurt someone's property, the claimant has three years to file the lawsuit.
Defects in Product Design
Some safety problems start with the conception or design of the product. Before it even makes its way to the manufacturing floor, the designers may fail to recognize a flaw in their ideas. A product failure falls under this category of California product liability law if it passes two legal tests: the risk/benefit test and the consumer expectations test.
The risk/benefit test assesses whether the possible benefits of using the product outweigh the possible risks. For example, a medication that causes cancer in most people, but stops runny noses fails this test.
In the consumer expectations test, the court weighs whether the consumer should reasonably expect the product to be safe when used as intended or as foreseeable. For example, an adult-sized chair that does not support the weight of the average adult would not pass this test. If the product design fails either of these tests, the manufacturer may be found liable in a California product liability lawsuit.
Errors in the Manufacturing Process
Most products are designed with safety in mind. However, trouble can come during the manufacturing process. If something goes awry while the product is being made, and it causes harm, the victim can file this type of California product liability lawsuit.
Users can file these lawsuits even if the company took precautions to guard against defects. A case may also qualify if the manufacturer did not make the product according to the design specification, which caused someone harm. For example, if a piece of glass makes it into food and cuts a consumer, the manufacturer can be held liable for the damage under California product liability statutes.
Failure With Warning or Instructions
The third type of California product liability law deals with warning labels and instructions on products. Even when safety is foremost for everyone in the design and manufacturing process, some products still carry inherent dangers. For example, no amount of careful planning can make cleaning chemicals safe if they are accidentally consumed.
In these cases, manufacturers must include warning labels and instructions for safe usage. If someone uses the product in accordance with the label and still gets hurt, it's possible that the company did not adequately warn consumers of its dangers. In that case, the company may be liable according to California product liability laws.
California Product Liability Lawsuit Defenses
When a company finds itself up against a product liability lawsuit, attorneys generally choose between two main types of defenses. First, they may try to prove that the consumer misused the product or changed it in a way that made it dangerous. Secondly, they can try to prove that the claimant should have known about the dangers even without a warning. This defense relies on the idea that the user had sufficient knowledge or training to properly use the product.
Mackenzie Maxwell has always been interested in law, working with legal issues since 2010. She served in Congress for some time, as part of the communications team for Silvestre Reyes and helped constituents understand the laws on the House floor. She stayed active in local politics to understand the laws that govern her area. As a writer, Mackenzie has worked with several lawyers to create thoughtful, helpful content.