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Understanding product liability claims, who is liable for damages

Residents in South Carolina and elsewhere rely on a variety of consumer products to get through his or her day. Whether it is a household item, medicine, makeup, a tool or a motor vehicle, it is tough to go through a day without using a consumer product. Society's reliability on these products does not only mean they rely on them serving a purpose, but it also extends to a consumer's reliance on a product working the way it was intended. When a product fails to work properly or malfunctions, this is likely due to a defect. And a defective product could be the source of a serious or even fatal consumer injury.

In order to understand whether you are a victim of a defective product, it is important to understand what product liability is and how an injured person could hold a liable party accountable for the harms caused to them. To begin, products liability refers to either a manufacturer or seller being liable for placing a defective product in the course of commerce or in the hands of a consumer. Responsibility for a defective product that causes harm lies with those in the distribution chain.

Liability in a products liability action could extend to a variety of parties, including the manufacturer of the product, the manufacturer of component parts used in the product, the party that assembles or installs the product, the wholesaler of the product or the retail store that sold the product to the consumer. One, some or all of these parties could be held accountable in a products liability claim.

There are different types of product defects, and they are divided into three different categories. The first is a design defect. This type of defect is present in a product from the very beginning. In other words, the defect happened before the product was even manufactured because something in the design in the product was inherently unsafe. The next category is manufacturing defects. These occur in the course of a products manufacturing, assembly or installation. The final category is a marketing defect. This occurs when there are flaws in the way a product is marketed. This could include flaws such as improper labeling, inadequate safety warnings or insufficient instructions for the product.

No one expects to be harmed by a consumer product; however, when such an incident occurs, a consumer could suffer much pain and suffering. Thus, it is imperative to understand what rights are afforded to injured consumers, allowing them to hold a negligent party accountable and collect compensation for damages and losses.

Source: Findlaw.com, "What is Product Liability?," accessed July 30, 2017

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