• May
    Posted in:
    Posted by: Jarve Kaplan Granato Starr

    Product Liability Vs Expected Wear and Tear: How to Tell the Difference

    Product liability is the area of law that provides consumers with the ability to hold a product’s designers, manufacturers, and sellers legally responsible for harm caused by defects or failures in their product. Some well-known examples of product liability cases include those filed against tobacco companies that knew of the dangers of their products but sold them anyway and without warning the public, or an automobile company that sold a model they knew were prone to deadly gas tank explosions, but which had calculated and bet on a cost/benefit ratio that left consumers’ lives in peril. But what happens when a product simply stops working over time? When a product causes damage following expected wear and tear, can it still be the subject of a product liability lawsuit?

    The short answer to that question is no. There is a big difference between a product that is broken or causes injury as a result of a defect and one that is broken because it has outlived its expected useful life.  So how do you, as a consumer, know the difference between the two when a product’s use has led to harm?

    The first and most immediate answer is to determine the age of a product that has broken. If a product is new and it comes apart or fails in its intended use, then it is defective and if it causes injury then it can be the subject of a product liability case. But if a product hasn’t broken until it has been used for an extended period of time after its manufacture and it has endured excessive wear and tear, then you will be hard-pressed to prove that it was a defect in its design, or manufacture, or of a failure to warn, that caused the injury.

    At the heart of every product liability case is the question of whether or not a product is defective in its design, its manufacture, or if whether the instructions and protections provided to the consumer provide adequate protection. But when a product breaks as a result of wear and tear and has proven reliable up until the time that it has outlived its expected useful life, it is unlikely that a jury will agree that the manufacturer or designer was negligent. The best way to determine whether your situation warrants legal action is to speak to an experienced product liability attorney who will review your case and explain all of the elements that come into play. To discuss a specific situation, contact our office today.

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