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2-Minute Law School: Dangerous and Defective Products



Hi. Professor Albert here for this week’s edition of THELAW.TV’s 2-Minute Law School. This week, we’re going to discuss product liability law, which is sometimes referred to as dangerous and defective products law.

You hear about product liability cases in the news all the time. Whether it’s tires that shred at high speeds or toys that injure kids, when a product is dangerous or defective, it affects and often hurts a lot of people. Product liability is the area of law in which manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, retailers, and others who make products available to the public are held responsible for the injuries those products cause. There are three types of liability: defect in manufacturing, defect in design, or a failure to warn of defects. In the United States, the claims most commonly associated with product liability are negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty, and various consumer protection claims. The majority of product liability laws are determined at the state level and vary widely from state-to-state.

In defending a product liability case, a manufacturer may classify a misuse as any unintended use. But courts apply a broader definition typically to the term of product misuse to constitute a use that is not reasonably foreseeable. Section two of The Restatement of Torts — which is a legal treatise — states that a seller will be liable only if a plaintiff is harmed, and listen carefully here because this is the key phrase, while using the product in a reasonably foreseeable manner and if the risk of harm was reasonably foreseeable. That generally means that someone who uses a product in a way that the manufacturer or designer of the product didn’t intent can’t sue for injuries caused by the product.

Product liability insurance protects the business from claims related to the manufacture or sale of products, food, medicines, or other goods to the public. It covers the manufacturer’s or seller’s liability for losses or injuries to a buyer, user, or bystander caused by a defect or malfunction of the product, and, in some instances, a defective design or a failure to warn. When it’s part of a commercial general liability policy, the coverage is sometimes called products-completed operations insurance.

Products must generally meet the reasonable or ordinary expectations of consumers. Moreover, manufacturers and sellers have a legal duty to inform consumers of the risks and dangers associated with using products. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, or C-P-S-C, is a federal regulatory agency charged with the protection of consumer from dangerous and defective products and reducing the risk of injuries to and death of consumers as a result of defective products.

If you have questions about the product liability law, watch hundreds of local attorneys answer thousands of legal questions on video, or consult with one of the featured lawyers. Online at THELAW.TV.

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