Product liability law in Southern California governs the responsibilities of manufacturers, distributors, and retailers for the safety of the products they sell. This law protects consumers from harm caused by defective or dangerous products.

While some accidents are just that– accidents, there are instances where a product is inherently defective or unreasonably dangerous, and legal recourse is necessary. For example, if a children’s toy is marketed for a specific age group but has small parts that pose a choking hazard, the manufacturer may be liable if a child chokes and suffers an injury. However, if a wine glass slips while you are taking it off the shelf and breaks, causing a cut, there may not be a claim to be made unless the glass was marketed as unbreakable.

Understanding product liability law in Southern California is crucial for consumers to know instances where they can seek compensation for their injuries. Let’s examine when an injury could lead to a product liability lawsuit in Southern California.

Southern California Product Liability Law: Strict Liability

Unlike typical personal injury cases in Southern California, product liability cases are based on strict liability. This means the plaintiff does not have to prove negligence by the defendant. Instead, the plaintiff must show that the defendant is responsible for the harm caused by the product. The defendant is strictly liable for any injuries caused by the product, regardless of whether they were negligent.

Elements of Strict Liability in Southern California

To establish a product liability claim in Southern California, the plaintiff must prove the following elements:

  • The defendant designed, manufactured, distributed, or sold the product
  • The product was defective when it left the defendant’s control
  • The plaintiff used the product in a reasonably foreseeable way
  • The defect caused the plaintiff’s injuries

What is Reasonably Foreseeable Use?

Reasonably foreseeable use is the way the product is intended to be used or used or misused that is reasonably foreseeable by the manufacturer or seller. 

Under California law, manufacturers must anticipate how the average consumer will use and possibly misuse their products. This doesn’t mean that designers and manufacturers must eliminate a danger, but they should take enough precautions to minimize the harm from using the products.

Types of Southern California Product Liability Cases

There are three types of product liability cases in Southern California:

  • Design Defect: This occurs when a product is unreasonably dangerous due to its design.
  • Manufacturing Defect: This occurs when a product is unreasonably dangerous due to a defect in the manufacturing process.
  • Inadequate Warnings: This occurs when a product is unreasonably dangerous due to the absence of adequate warnings or instructions.

Who Can Be Held Liable in Southern California Product Liability Cases?

In product liability cases, the following parties may be at fault:

  • Manufacturer: The manufacturer whose name appears on the box may be responsible if the product was dispatched as defective. Sometimes, if the defect is caused by a malfunction of one part of the product, the defendant could also be the manufacturer of that specific part.
  • Distributor or wholesaler: The distributor or wholesaler may be responsible if they knew about the defect or made mistakes when handling the product.
  • Retailer: The retailer may be responsible if they knew or should have known about the defect and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent harm. Unlike some other states, California law does not provide for an “innocent seller” exception in product liability cases.

Common Defenses to Product Liability Claims in Southern California

The most common defenses to product liability claims include the following:

  • The defendant did not design, manufacture, distribute, or sell the product
  • The product was not defective
  • The plaintiff used the product in a way that was not intended or foreseeable
  • Someone else negligently altered or repaired the product
  • The plaintiff’s own negligence contributed to their injuries
  • The plaintiff’s injuries were caused by something else

What To Do After a Defective Product Injures You

If a defective product has injured you, the following steps can help you protect your legal rights:

  • Discontinue Use: Stop using the product immediately to prevent further harm
  • Do not try to fix the product: Do not try to repair the product, as this may destroy significant evidence
  • Seek medical attention: Seek medical attention for your injuries and follow your doctor’s instructions
  • Capture Photos: Take photos of the product, the injuries, and any other relevant evidence
  • Obtain a medical record: Obtain copies of your medical records indicating how the injury occurred
  • Prove your Injury: You must prove that the injury was caused by the defective product and the injury warrants compensation

Comparative Fault in Product Liability Cases in Southern California

In Southern California, comparative fault may be used to determine the amount of compensation awarded in a product liability case. Comparative fault means that the plaintiff’s compensation may be reduced by their percentage of fault if they are found to be partially responsible for their injuries.

Statute of Limitations for Product Liability in Southern California

In Southern California, the statute of limitations for product liability cases is two years from the date of injury or discovery. Filing a lawsuit within this time frame is crucial to avoid losing your right to sue.

Contact the Experienced Product Liability Lawyers in Burbank, Southern California Today

If you have been injured by a defective product in Burbank, contact the experienced product liability lawyers at Avaness Law today. We can help you understand your legal rights and pursue the compensation you deserve. You can reach us at 818-403-3382 or online to book a free consultation.