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Defective Products

Posted on:11/1/2012
Product liability is the area of tort law governing financial responsibility for accidents caused by defective products. Few legal arenas have proved more controversial in the past few years than product liability.


Product liability is the area of tort law governing financial responsibility for accidents caused by defective products. Few legal arenas have proved more controversial in the past few years than product liability. Although economists and lawyers have produced voluminous analyses of the implications of alternative liability rules, the actual effects of current treatment in the United States are not well defined.The reasons for this gap in our knowledge are obvious. In addition to the usual problems of measuring the effects of safety regulation, products liability is not itself a coherent "policy" pursued by one or a few government agencies. It is rather the sum total of legal efforts undertaken by thousands of private parties (usually injured consumers) and interpreted by hundreds of judges and juries.

 

The interpretations, moreover, occur under state laws that vary, at times significantly. The end result, then, is not simply a potpourri of legal doctrine but a variety of market impacts that defies simple characterization.It is commonly noted that products liability lawsuits may be based in any of three distinct legal "theories".

 

These theories are negligence - to recover damages, the plaintiff must show that the product manufacturer (or other supplier) failed to take "due care," usually defined as the care that a "reasonably" prudent person would have taken in the circumstances;  breach of implied warranty - the manufacturer or supplier is liable for damages if the product is not fit for the purpose for which it is intended (or for other "reasonably anticipated" uses); and strict liability the manufacturer or supplier is liable if a "defective" product causes harm, without regard to fault (negligence) or warranties (express or implied).


  
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