Man signing personal injury claim

What Are the Grounds for a Product Liability Claim?

Businesses that manufacture and sell products have a responsibility to make sure they sell safe products. Injured consumers have the right to compensation for their injuries and other losses under several legal theories.

Grounds for filing a product liability claim can include:

Strict Liability

Strict liability is imposed regardless of the manufacturer’s knowledge or lack of knowledge about the product’s defects. Your case will focus on the product rather than the manufacturer. This makes strict liability the most common ground for a product liability claim.

To win a strict liability claim in New Mexico, you must prove:

  • The product was defective
  • The product was defective when it left the manufacturer’s hands and remained substantially unchanged when it reached you
  • The product was unreasonably dangerous
  • You suffered an injury
  • The defective product caused your injury

If you can prove all these elements, a jury can award damages to cover your injuries and other losses.

You can base your product liability claim on three types of defects:

Design Defect

A product has a design defect if the product has no safe use. Examples of design defects include lawn darts and thalidomide, a morning sickness drug that caused birth defects.

Consumers could not use these products for their intended purposes in a safe manner. For example, the purpose of lawn darts was to pierce the lawn when thrown in the air. There was no safe way to use them for that purpose.

The purpose of thalidomide was to treat pregnant women. But since thalidomide caused birth defects, it put every patient and her baby at risk.

Manufacturing Defect

Manufacturing defects happen when a product’s features depart in some dangerous way from its design. Manufacturing defects happen at the factory. An example of a manufacturing defect was the tread separation that occurred in Bridgestone tires in the 1990s.

After analyzing the tires that caused more than 270 deaths and 700 injuries, the company concluded that the layer of rubber between the steel belts failed to conform to its design standards. This thin layer would crack and allow the tread to separate from the rest of the tire.

Warning Defect

Warning defects happen when the instructions fail to warn the consumer of a reasonably common hazard. They can also happen when a product has a safe use, but the instructions do not reasonably describe how to use it safely.

Negligence

Negligence happens when a company knew or should have known that its products were unreasonably dangerous, yet still allowed the product to enter the stream of commerce.

Negligence requires your product liability lawyer to delve into what the company knew about its product’s defects, and you might not have access to this information. 

But if you can find a whistleblower, you might obtain internal documents about the company’s knowledge. You can then use the company’s knowledge of the defect, or its reckless disregard of warning signs about possible defects, to seek punitive damages.

Breach of Warranty

Another legal theory for product liability cases is a breach of warranty. Under this claim, you must prove that the product failed to fulfill its intended purpose.

For example, If you bought a light switch that electrocuted you when it was properly installed, the company failed to provide the promised product. As a result, you can seek damages for its failure.

Choosing a Theory

You do not need to choose between the various product liability theories. Many cases include all the theories and allow a jury to decide which claims had evidentiary support.

It is important to note that you cannot get multiple damage awards for the same harm. But different theories look at different types of damages. So, you might get compensation that more completely covers your losses by presenting multiple grounds for your product liability claim.

Hunt Law is ready to pursue justice for your medical malpractice, personal injury, wrongful death, or catastrophic injury case in northern New Mexico. To discuss the compensation you can seek for your injuries from a defective product, contact Hunt Law today.