Understanding California Product Liability Laws & Claims
Get Legal Help From Top Los Angeles Defective Product Injury Lawyers
Manufacturers, product sellers, and marketers have a legal obligation to look out for the health and safety of consumers. Companies should never put profits before people: dangerous products should not make it onto the market.
If something you purchased caused you pain, you’ll be relieved to know that California’s product liability laws are very consumer friendly, but you should still seek legal help from a product injury attorney as soon as possible.
Statutes of Limitation & Time Limits For Product Liability Claims
- within 2 years of discovery for personal injury claims (CCP § 335.1)
- within 3 years for property damage claims (CCP § 335.1)
California does have a statute of repose, but it only applies if the “product” in question is an “improvement on real property” (for example: electrical work or track lighting).
Limits on Damages
California uses the pure comparative fault standard. This means that if a product exploded, causing $20,000 in damage to your roof, even if you were 80% at fault, you could still potentially recover $4,000 from the manufacturer or seller of the product. California also uses the economic loss rule, which prevents recovery of purely economic losses, such as lost profits.
Legal Basis for Liability in Product Cases
A plaintiff may rely on one or more of several theories upon which to base his or her argument for recovery in a products liability case. The primary theories for recovery include the following: negligence, tortious misrepresentation, breach of warranty, and strict liability in tort.
The tort of negligence remains a central part of the law of products liability. To recover under a theory of negligence, a plaintiff must prove five basic elements, which include:
(1) the manufacturer owed a duty to the plaintiff
(2) the manufacturer breached a duty to the plaintiff
(3) the breach of duty was the actual cause of the plaintiff’s injury
(4) the breach of duty was also the proximate cause of the injury
(5) the plaintiff suffered actual damages as a result of the negligent act
A claim in a products liability suit may be based on false or misleading information that is conveyed by the manufacturer of a product.
Tortious misrepresentation may appear in one of three basic forms.
- fraudulent misrepresentation or deceit, in which the person knows that a statement is false and intends to mislead the plaintiff by making the statement.
- negligent misrepresentation, where the person was negligent in ascertaining whether a statement was true.
- some jurisdictions allow for strict liability in cases where a manufacturer makes a public statement about the product safety.
The Uniform Commercial Code (U.C.C.) provides the basis for warranties in the U.S., and recognizes express warranties and two types of implied warranties:
- the implied warranty of merchantability, or a promise that a product sold is in good working order and will do what it is supposed to do.
- the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, or a promise that a seller’s advice on how to use a product is correct.
A manufacturer is liable for product defects that occur during the manufacturing process, notwithstanding the level of care employed by the manufacturer. Courts later extended the strict liability principles to include cases that did not involve errors in manufacturing, such as cases involving a failure of a manufacturer to provide ample warnings.
Products Liability applies strict liability rules to cases involving errors in manufacturing, but applies negligence rules to other types of products liability cases.
Liability for Used Products
Different rules have developed in products liability law for those who sell or repair used products. In most instances, a person who repairs, rebuilds, or reconditions a product is liable if the person is negligent in treating the product, but the person is not subject to strict liability for defects. In some cases, a person who re-manufactures a product may be subject to the same products liability rules as the original manufacturer.
Defenses to Product Liability
A defendant in a products liability suit may employ one of several defenses to liability. One of the more common defenses is that the plaintiff misused the product in a manner that was not reasonably foreseeable to the manufacturer.
Other defenses may be based on the plaintiff’s own negligence in using a product or on the plaintiff’s assumption of the risk associated with the product. Similar defenses apply in breach of warranty claims.
Basis for Liability
There are three main categories of product liability:
- Defective Design. In defective design cases, courts use two tests to determine liability — the risk/benefit test, and the consumer expectations test.
- Manufacturing Defect. If the product that caused your injuries was defectively manufactured despite the manufacturer having used the utmost care in all stages in the manufacturing process, your personal injury attorney will file a strict liability claim for a manufacturing defect.
- Lack of Adequate Warning/Instructions. Sometimes products are still dangerous, even if they were designed safely and manufactured perfectly, but the manufacturer must warn you of this.
There are two main defenses that a manufacturer may use in California to defend against fault in a product liability claim:
- you misused or modified the product in a way that was not reasonably foreseeable
- you are a “sophisticated user” and should have known that the product was dangerous.
Top Personal Injury & Product Liability Lawyers in Los Angeles
Our dedicated attorneys at Grey Law have 25+ years of experience in handling product liability cases in Los Angeles courts and will protect your legal rights and help you recover the compensation you deserve.
For a free initial consultation and dedicated representation, please don’t hesitate to contact us by phone 323-673-3943 or email today.
With a firm grasp of the local and state laws regarding company product responsibilities, our experienced attorneys know how to argue on your behalf effectively. While our state’s strict liability laws make it easier for injured consumers to obtain settlements, the victim still bears a significant burden of proof.
Large corporations have the finances to make a strong defense against your case and will try hard to discredit you to save their reputation. Product liability cases deserve the attention of aggressive and dedicated lawyers. When you contact the Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at Grey Law with a product liability claim, we will help every step of the way, representing you in and out of the courtroom.
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