Product Liability and Wrongful Death

Product Liability Law

In a product liability claim, the plaintiff is holding the manufacturer or retailer of a product liable for an injury or death. To have a successful claim, the plaintiff must prove negligence in the making or marketing of the product. Product liability claims also ask the question, “Who is responsible?” Parties that may be held responsible for an injury from a product may be the manufacturer, the designer, the wholesaler, or the store that sold the product.

If a plaintiff can prove that the product was dangerous or defective, then a party involved in the making or sale of the product may be held responsible for any injuries obtained from the product in question. A product that does not meet general safety requirements, or a product that holds unexpected dangers that results in injuries may prove negligence of the defendant. Warnings must also be added to products that may be unsafe in certain situations. For example, if a parent purchases an off-brand Lego set that does not include a choking warning, and their child chokes on it, then the party involved in the marketing of the product may be held responsible for the injury or death.

Product defects that may help a product liability lawsuit include:

  • Defects in the design of the product that could have been knowingly avoided
  • Defects in the assembly or manufacturing of the product that made one specific product unsafe for consumers
  • Defects in the marketing of the product, such as not providing sufficient warnings of possible hazards

Every state has its own set of laws regarding product liability since there are no federal laws enacted on it. Lawsuits that prove successful for the plaintiff due to product liability typically have to prove negligence or a breach of warranty. The various state legislation on product liability tends to follow the Uniform Commercial Code, which sets guidelines for warranty regulations.

Products that are Inherently Unsafe

Some products, such as guns or knives, are obviously unsafe by nature, and making them “safer” would defeat the purpose of the product. Manufacturers and retail stores selling unavoidably dangerous products must still provide warnings of the possible risks of using the product. In product liability cases that resulted in wrongful death, it may be difficult for the plaintiff to prove that the dangerous product, such as a gun, is sufficient evidence to prove the negligence of the other party – unless the gun had a defect in some shape or form. For example, if a gun misfired or exploded, resulting in a death, then the plaintiff may have a successful claim for a wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturer of the faulty product.

Special Limitation Periods In Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Due to the statute of limitations, a wrongful death lawsuit that has arisen from a previous personal injury of the decedent must be filed within a certain time frame. This means that a plaintiff claiming a wrongful death has to file the lawsuit within a certain amount of time, otherwise the plaintiff may not be able to file the wrongful death lawsuit at all.

In some states, cases of product liability resulting in wrongful death may have special time limitations that begin on the date of the decedent’s death. There are also various state laws that may deny product liability claims altogether in wrongful death lawsuits if the product that caused death was off the market for a certain amount of time.

Contacting An Attorney

Since there are no federal laws on product liability, it is important to do research on state laws. If you believe a defective product was the direct cause of the death of a loved one, it is wise to consult with a wrongful death lawyer Salt Lake City, UT residents trust to discuss further options. Experiencing a wrongful death is stressful for all parties, but hiring an attorney sooner rather than later may increase the success of a product liability lawsuit.

Thank you to our contributors at the law offices of Rasmussen & Miner for the above information.