What do I need to prove to win a product liability lawsuit?
If a product causes harm to a consumer, the person who was injured may file a lawsuit known as a product liability claim. In this type of case, a manufacturer, distributor, supplier or retailer can be held liable for defects in the design or manufacture of products, or for failing to warn consumers about the potential dangers of using the product. In California, victims who are injured by dangerous or defective products are protected by a legal theory known as strict liability.
Strict liability means that the victim (plaintiff) does not need to prove that the entity who manufactured or sold/distributed the product (defendant) was negligent. This makes it much easier to prove a case and win damages. To prove a product liability claim in California, a plaintiff has to show the following elements:
- The product was manufactured, sold or distributed by the defendant;
- The product had a manufacturing defect, was defectively designed, did not have proper instructions or failed to warn consumers about its dangers; and
- The defect or failure to warn consumers caused harm to the plaintiff.
If a plaintiff can demonstrate these three elements — and that they were using the product in the way that it was supposed to be used — then they will likely win their product liability lawsuit.