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Products liability law in aviation accidents

Although folks may not always think of aircraft as products - at least not in the same way one thinks of toys or tires - they are. And when a product that is supposed to carry multiple people at high speeds and altitudes suffers from a flaw, the results can be devastating. In New Jersey, those who build, design, or maintain aircraft are required to do so with the utmost safety consciousness, lest they be held liable in a products liability lawsuit.

When a defective aircraft - or other product - causes injury, the manufacturer or owner of the aircraft can be held responsible under the legal concept of "strict liability." The notion of strict liability came about to protect consumers, from products that create an unreasonable risk of harm when they're used as intended. The defects in such dangerous products can stem from poor design, faulty manufacture, or negligent maintenance.

If an accident is caused by a defective aircraft, three things must be shown to invoke a strict products liability claim. First, those seeking compensation must prove that the aircraft was defective when it left the manufacturer or maintenance base. Then the facts must show that the aircraft was being used as intended - for example not using a passenger plane for stunts. Finally, it must be proven that the defective aircraft caused injury or damage.

If a consumer or a loved one has been injured by a defectively built, designed, or maintained product - such as an aircraft -- they may be entitled to compensation for the losses they've suffered and expenses they incurred as a result. Although the concept of product liability is relatively straightforward, litigating a product liability case can be very complex. It is therefore crucial that anyone injured in an accident caused by a defective product consult with a seasoned attorney with experience handling such cases.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Product Liability and Aviation Accidents," accessed Jan. 30, 2018

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