Product liability is a legal area people often oversimplify. Some individuals believe that any time they get hurt using a product, they can take legal action and collect compensation for damages.
This is not true, because the nuances of product liability law can dramatically affect whether there are grounds to pursue a claim. And often, consumers fail to realize that how they used the product often prevents them from holding your company liable for their injuries.
How Individuals Change Liability
It is true that, in general, the parties that design, manufacture, and sell products can be accountable for defects that cause injuries to users. However, under certain circumstances, consumer actions provide a defense against liability.
- They modify the product. After buying a product an individual might “hack” it to work differently. However, once a person changes an item, those modifications could make it unsafe to use. In some cases, the modification itself makes the item defective, releasing the original manufacturer from liability.
- They misuse the product. Companies cannot control what individuals do after they come into possession of their goods. If manufacturers and distributors provide clear instructions and warnings, they may not be liable if a person still misuses the product or uses it for unintended purposes.
- They buy the product from unauthorized parties. Purchasing a product from someone who is not authorized to sell it can mean the manufacturer or distributor is not liable if that product is defective. This is because these unauthorized parties may have sold counterfeit, modified, or damaged goods.
- They fail to recognize inherent risks. Some products are inherently dangerous, including construction equipment, tools, and chemicals. Per California state laws, manufacturers and sellers of these products are generally not liable for damages caused by a product that a reasonable person would recognize as inherently dangerous. For example, a knife manufacturer would likely not be responsible for damages if someone cuts themselves while using the product.
Under these circumstances, manufacturers, distributors, and sellers could mount a defense arguing they are not liable for damages.
Defending Against Product Liability Claims
Companies face serious consequences for defective product claims. Thus, preparing an aggressive defense to disprove liability for these or other reasons can be crucial in shielding you from costly product liability claims.