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The three theories of product liability

When consumers buy a product, they may give very little thought to its safety. Sure, they might be concerned about quality, but usually in a way that deals with the product's longevity. There is good reason for this lack of concern. State and federal legislators and regulators have implemented laws and rules to help ensure products that hit the market are safe for consumers to use. Although most products adhere to the standards imposed by these rules and regulations, there are instances where dangerous products make their way to the market, putting unsuspecting consumers at risk of harm.

An individual who suffers harm from a defective product may be able to recover compensation via a product liability lawsuit. Typically, victims of dangerous products pursue their claims under one of three theories. First, a victim can claim that the product was defectively designed. Second, a victim may be able to claim that the product suffered from a manufacturing defect. Third, a victim can claim that marketing defects led to their injuries.

Under the first theory, design defect, a victim must show that something about the product is inherently unsafe. This can be challenging, as it involves questioning a product's intended purpose. The second theory, on the other hand, only requires showing that the materials used were inadequate to ensure product safety, or the product was crafted in a way that left it vulnerable to weaknesses. The third theory, marketing defects, often involves showing that the product was improperly labeled, lacked safety warnings, or contained instructions that were inadequate.

Products liability claims can be difficult, especially since victims are often going up against companies that have extensive legal resources at their disposal. Yet, victims, too, can secure legal counsel to help them pursue the compensation to which they may be entitled. Therefore, those injured by a defective product may want to consider whether seeking assistance can help them identify a proper theory to pursue to increase their chances of success on a legal claim.

Source: FindLaw, "What is Product Liability?," accessed on March 27, 2017

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