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Product Liability: When Can You Sue a Manufacturer?

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

You might be able to sue the manufacturer if a defective product harmed you. California law imposes strict liability in several situations, meaning that you will not have to prove that the manufacturer was careless and that the injury was the result of negligence on the part of the manufacturer. 

You will want to talk to a Los Angeles product liability attorney about pursuing a claim against the manufacturer, seeking compensation for your injuries and other losses. Let’s explore the topic of when you can sue a manufacturer for product liability.

Factors We Must Prove in a Product Liability Claim in California

We cannot sue the manufacturer every time a person gets hurt using a product. The product must have a defect that existed when the manufacturer made the item. Also, the plaintiff must have received the injury when using the product in a reasonably foreseeable manner. All of those elements must be resent to prevail on a product liability claim against the manufacturer.

Types of Defects That Can Form the Basis for a California Product Liability Claim

Sometimes, a product has a defective design that can make it dangerous. For example, a brand of automobile airbags had a defective design that caused them to explode instead of inflating safely in some circumstances. No matter how well the manufacturer made those airbags, they were doomed to failure because of problems in their design.  

Manufacturing defects are another type of product liability claim basis. Even with a perfect design, the end product might be defective if the manufacturer used incorrect parts or materials, inferior parts or materials, or improper manufacturing procedures. A motor vehicle could be defective if the factory substituted lower-quality parts due to supply chain issues.

Some products are inherently dangerous, but we still need these items, like chainsaws. These products should contain adequate warnings. A common example of an inadequate warning is when the pharmaceutical company knows of possible side effects of a medication but does not warn doctors or patients about those complications to allow them to make an informed decision about the drug. 

The Requirement of “Reasonably Foreseeable” Use of the Product

A product should be safe to use for its intended purpose. By way of example, a chair should not collapse when you sit on it. California requires an additional component, that the item must not be dangerous when used in a manner that is reasonably foreseeable. Continuing with our scenario, it is reasonably foreseeable that a person might stand on a chair to change a lightbulb. The chair should not collapse when used this way. 

On the other hand, it is not reasonably foreseeable that a person would use a chair to extend the reach of a ladder. If the chair collapses because of a person placing a ladder on top of it and climbing the ladder, that is not a foreseeable use of the chair. 

Modification of the Product

You cannot sue the manufacturer if the product got modified after it left the manufacturer’s possession and the alteration caused the product to be defective. Post-market modifications are common with motor vehicles. If your car got a suspension upgrade by a third party after you bought it, and the alteration caused a crash, the manufacturer will not be liable under a product liability claim.

Product liability claims are complicated, so you will want to talk to you a Los Angeles product liability attorney about pursuing a claim for monetary damages from the manufacturer. Contact us today.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.