How to Prove Fault in Product Liability Cases
When consumers purchase a product, they are entitled to believe that the product can be safely used for its intended purpose, and that any hazards associated with the product are made clear in its packaging. Of course, some products are inherently more dangerous than others. A chainsaw will always be more dangerous than a coffee machine. A problem sets in when any product - chainsaws and coffee machines included - is unforeseeably and unreasonably dangerous when used according to instructions and a person is injured or killed as a result.
At the law firm of Younker Hyde Macfarlane, PLLC, when an injured victim entrusts us with a personal injury lawsuit, we take our responsibility to that victim and his or her family extremely seriously. We believe that the party or parties responsible for the pain and suffering of innocent victims should be made to answer for their negligence. However, when our attorneys in Salt Lake City handle product liability cases, proving fault is a somewhat different matter from other types of personal injury cases. This is because, in the vast majority of cases involving product defects, the doctrine of strict liability comes into play.
What Is the Doctrine of Strict Liability?
In most personal injury cases, attorneys must present evidence that the defendant - the party or parties being accused of causing the accident that resulted in the plaintiff’s injury - acted negligently. Negligence refers to the failure of a person, people, or entity to exercise reasonable care or caution either in committing a specific act or by not acting, thereby putting others at risk of harm. If an attorney is not able to present sufficient evidence of negligence on the part of the defendant in a case, the plaintiff will not be able to obtain damages for his or her injuries.
However, in cases involving defective products, the doctrine of strict liability almost always trumps the need to demonstrate a specific act of negligence. This is because, according to the doctrine, the flaw in the design, manufacture, or marketing of a product is, in itself, sufficient evidence of negligence. Therefore, as long as our product liability attorneys are able to demonstrate the following, fault on the part of the defendant is taken as a given:
- That the product in question was defective in its design, manufacture, marketing materials, packaging, instructions, labelling, or any combination thereof;
- That the person using the product was using it for its proper purpose and according to instructions at the time he or she was injured;
- That the injury was caused by the defect in the product;
- That the defect could not have reasonably been foreseen or predicted;
- That the injury resulted in demonstrable losses and expenses that the injured otherwise would not have suffered.
With all of these elements in place, negligence on the part of whatever party or parties responsible for the defect will be assumed, even if a specific act of negligence cannot be pinpointed.
For further information, or to arrange for an evaluation of your product liability case, please contact Younker Hyde Macfarlane, PLLC today.