If a product is defective, the manufacturers are held responsible for the damages. Product liability law functions to protect the consumer by requiring that manufacturers, distributors, and retailers take necessary measures to ensure that potentially harmful products are not being placed on the market.
Products with inherent defects are liable to lawsuits. While retail items are most common in product liability lawsuits, products can vary from intangible items such as toxic vapors to natural items such as pets. Faulty navigational charts or real estate matters like defective siding are also included.
Claims can be based on three theories: defects in design, defects in manufacture, or defects in marketing. A defect of design occurs when the natural design of the product interferes with its safe usage. A defect of manufacture deals with the improper assembly of the product. Lastly, a defect in marketing happens when there is improper labeling, such as incorrect instructions or failure to place proper warning labels on the product.
Depending on the jurisdiction, theories of liability which the plaintiff can pursue vary. The most popular include negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty. In negligence, the plaintiff must prove the party liable should have detected the default if proper investigation was taken before the release of the product. However, in strict liability, all that must be demonstrated is that product was defective. Breach of warranty involves a defect with the written warranty.