Reliability of products is something most of us take for granted. If we pay for something, we expect the product to function as claimed by the manufacturer. When it doesn’t, there is an equal expectation that someone can be held accountable. Even if a product’s maker or reseller isn’t willing to stand behind it, consumer protection laws might be leveraged to obtain compensation for damages suffered.
That hasn’t always been the case. A quick look at history of product liability law in the United States reveals that the concept of consumer product liability as we understand it has only existed since about the 1950s. Prior to that time, the law often restricted recovery efforts only to someone who bought a product directly from a manufacturer. As more purchases were made through retailers, average consumers were left unprotected.
That is not the case today. Depending on the laws of a given state, a consumer may have several routes available for making a claim. In addition to breach of warranty, claims might also be based on claims of strict liability or negligence.
Two types of warranty are generally recognized under the Uniform Commercial Code as adopted in whole or in part by every state, including Florida. An express warranty might include any verbal or written claim made by a salesperson about a product. A breach of implied warranty claim might be possible if the product proved to be unsafe when used as intended.
For a negligence claim to be successful, five elements must be provable:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.
- The defendant failed to live up to that duty.
- That failure resulted in harm to the plaintiff.
- That the potential for the harm was foreseeable.
- The defendant’s actions resulted in damage.
Recovery through a claim of strict liability is the one that is perhaps most common. This principle allows a plaintiff injured due to a product defect to seek compensation from a manufacturer or seller without having to show that the defendants acted with negligent intent.
Obviously, consumer protection law can be complicated. To be sure that one’s rights and future are protected when injury results from product defect, an attorney should be consulted.