There are four distinct elements that need to be proved for a successful defective products claim under the strict liability theory:
- The product is defective and it is unreasonably dangerous for its intended use;
- The product was defective when it left the seller’s control;
- The consumer suffered an injury;
- The defective product was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Defective Product is Unreasonably Dangerous for its Intended Use
The product is “unreasonably dangerous” if the product is more dangerous than what an ordinary consumer would contemplate. Even if the consumer does not use the product as intended by the manufacturer, the seller may be liable for the consumer’s injuries if the consumer used the product in a manner that an ordinary consumer would.
Product was Defected When It Left the Seller’s Control
The consumer has to prove that the product was defective when it left the seller’s control. If the product is defective after it leaves the seller’s control, the seller cannot be liable for the injuries that the defective product may cause the consumer. However, the seller can still be liable for the defective product that becomes defective after it has left the seller’s control only if the consumer proves that the change in the product’s condition was foreseeable in the scope of the intended use of the product.
Consumer Suffered an Injury
The consumer had to have suffered an actual physical injury by the defective product.
Defect Product was the Cause of the Consumer’s Injuries
The consumer has to prove that the defective product was the direct cause of the injuries. This is an easy element to prove because a physical examination will show that the injury was or was not caused by the defective product. However, the seller will argue that the defective product was not the direct cause of the consumer’s injuries, but rather, the injuries were caused by the consumer’s negligence in not using the product in the correct manner.
Lastly, it is important to note that in a strict liability case for defective products, the consumer does not have to prove negligence in the part of the seller. Likewise, the seller cannot use the contributory negligence theory as a defense to a strict liability.
If you or someone you know has been injured due to a defective product, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.