When Strict Liability is Applied for Product Defects in California

li-tzuni-507346-unsplash-copy-300x199When you purchase a new product from the store, you probably do not expect to bring it home and get injured from using it. This scenario, unfortunately, is all too common. In fact, in 2016, there were about 240,000 injuries that led to emergency room visits involving toys and other children’s products alone. If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective product, contact an experienced products liability attorney immediately so that he or she can start fighting for your rights and getting you the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

What is Strict Liability?

Strict liability means that one party is liable for the other’s injuries no matter what. In the context of product defects in California, strict liability means that when a consumer is injured by a product, the designer, manufacturer, or seller is responsible for the consumer’s injuries, even if the designer, manufacturer, or seller did not act negligently in designing, manufacturing, or selling the product. As long as there is a causal relationship between the product and the consumer’s injury, strict liability applies.

When is Strict Liability Applied?

In California, strict liability is applied to three types of product defects:

  • Manufacturing defects: The product either differs from the manufacturer’s intended specifications or design, or the product differs from other units of the same product.
  • Design defects: There is something inherently dangerous in the design of the product that does not outweigh the benefits, if any, provided by the product. As such, the product does not perform as safely as an average consumer would expect it to perform when used in a reasonably foreseeable manner.
  • Warning defects, or inadequate warnings: The product contains certain risks or dangers that a typical consumer would not know about but that the manufacturer, distributor, or seller knew about or should have known about but failed to disclose.

What is “Reasonably Foreseeable”?

Under California law, strict products liability applies only when the consumer uses, or misuses, the product in a reasonably foreseeable way. This means that manufacturers and designers are required to think about how an average consumer would use the product – whether correctly or incorrectly.

When a manufacturer or designer fails to consider the possible ways in which the average consumer might use or misuse a product, the manufacturer or designer may be strictly liable for any injuries that occur. For example, if a consumer purchases a skateboard, and the skateboard explodes as the consumer is riding it down the street, a strict liability case would ensue. In that case, the consumer was using the skateboard in a reasonably foreseeable manner, and the skateboard exploded, injuring the consumer. However, if the consumer was using the skateboard as a way to transport bottles of beer from one end of the bar to the other, and in the process the consumer was injured by the flying bottles of beer and the skateboard crashing onto the other end of the bar with great force, then strict liability would not apply. Using a skateboard as a beverage transportation device is not a reasonably foreseeable use for a skateboard, so the manufacturer or designer cannot be held liable for any resulting injuries.

The attorneys as Willoughby Brod are well-versed in products liability law and have helped countless consumers obtain a full recovery on their injuries from defective products. If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective product in California, contact us today at (800) 427-7020 or visit us online to schedule your free consultation.

(image courtesy of Li Tzuni)