How Do I Prove a Product Liability Claim for a Defective Tire That Blew Out?
The answer will be a matter of determination for the court based on all of the facts and circumstances involved. Expert testimony is usually central to proving a plaintiff's claim, and such cases often become a battle between the plaintiff's and defendant's experts. Proof of similar complaints by consumers or product recalls of the particular brand are also used to prove such claims. Product liability cases are usually based on one of the following theories: (1) breach of warranty; (2) negligence; (3) or breach of warranty of fitness or (4) strict liability.
(1) Breach of Warranty: A warranty can be express or implied. Implied warranties provide that a product will be fit and safe for its intended purpose. Liability for a breach of express warranty exists if the supplier or seller of a product containing asbestos made a claim about the product that ultimately caused someone to buy or use the product, and that claim later turned out to be false.
(2) Negligence: In order to make a defendant liable for negligence, the plaintiff shall prove four elements: “(1) the defendant had a legal duty to provide a safe product; (2) the defendant breached that duty; (3) the breach caused an injury; and, (4) the injury resulted in damages to the plaintiff.” This is a relatively difficult standard to prove and hence courts have developed an alternative theory of strict liability.
(3) An implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or implied warranty of fitness refers to a warranty implied by law that if a seller knows or has reason to know of a particular purpose for which some item is being purchased by the buyer, the seller is guaranteeing that the item is fit for that particular purpose.
(4) Strict Liability: Like negligence, the strict product liability theory requires the plaintiff to prove four elements: (1) a strict duty to supply a safe product; (2) a breach of that duty; (3) causation; and, (4) damages. However, strict liability differs from negligence in two key ways. First, under a strict liability theory, the existence of a duty is shown when there is a commercial supplier that manufactures or retails the product - not just a casual seller. Second, under a strict liability theory, the plaintiff does not need to show that the breach of duty is the result of any negligent action. The mere fact that the product was dangerous or defective is enough to establish a breach of the supplier's duty. The element of causation can often be the most difficult to prove. Usually, expert reports and studies are presented by the defense to dispute that product did not cause the injury alleged. Therefore, in order to prove causation, the plaintiff must show that the product can cause the injury claimed, and that there was not another contributing factor that could have caused the injury. Strict liability does not require that the injured plaintiff show knowledge or fault on the manufacturer's part. The plaintiff must show only that the product was sold or distributed by a defendant and that the product was unreasonably dangerous at the time it left the defendant's possession. The behavior or knowledge (or lack thereof) of a products liability defendant regarding the dangerous nature of a product is not an issue for consideration under a strict liability theory. Strict liability concerns only the condition of the product itself while a negligence theory concerns not only the product, but also the manufacturer's knowledge and conduct.
For further information, please see: