Product liability cases are legal disputes arising when a person suffers harm or injury due to a defective or dangerous product. These cases can involve various types of faults, including design or manufacturing defects and failures to provide adequate warnings or instructions.
Strict liability is an essential legal principle that plays a vital role in product liability cases. Unlike other legal theories, such as negligence, strict liability does not require the injured party to prove that the manufacturer or seller acted below accepted standards. Instead, strict liability focuses on the defective nature of the product itself and holds responsible parties accountable for the harm caused.
Understanding strict liability is crucial for consumers as it provides them with a legal avenue to seek compensation for injuries caused by defective products. Strict liability simplifies the legal process by eliminating the need to prove negligence. It enables victims to pursue claims more efficiently.
What Is Strict Liability?
Strict liability in product liability cases is a legal concept that holds manufacturers, sellers, and distributors accountable for the safety of their products, regardless of whether they were negligent. It is a powerful incentive for these parties to exercise utmost care and diligence throughout production and distribution.
In Missouri, the concept of strict liability can be found in the Missouri Revised Code § 537.760. The code outlines the legal framework that governs product liability claims in the state, ensuring that injured parties have legal recourse for harm caused by defective products.
The Missouri Revised Code defines a product liability claim as one where any entity engaged in manufacturing, selling, leasing, distributing, or assembling a product is strictly liable for any harm caused by the product.
The injured party must demonstrate the following key elements:
- The injured party used the product in a reasonably anticipated manner and
- The product itself was defective or unreasonably dangerous when sold and/or
- The product was sold with inadequate warnings or instructions.
Missouri's product liability laws ensure that injured parties can seek compensation for damages by holding all parties strictly liable, regardless of their position in the supply chain. This legal framework provides an avenue for justice. It encourages businesses to prioritize consumer safety in product design, production, and distribution.
Differences Between Strict Liability and Negligence
In product liability cases, notable differences exist between strict liability and negligence, particularly regarding the focus of responsibility.
In strict liability cases, the defendant, whether a manufacturer, seller, or distributor, is held accountable for designing, manufacturing, or distributing a flawed or dangerous product. The product's defective nature is emphasized rather than the defendant's actions. This allows the injured party to pursue a claim for compensation without having to prove any fault or negligence on the defendant's part.
On the other hand, negligence focuses on the defendant's actions or conduct. To establish negligence, the plaintiff must show that the defendant failed to meet the accepted standard of care, either through carelessness or intentional wrongdoing. Negligence cases require evidence that the defendant's actions directly caused the harm or injury suffered by the plaintiff.
Application of Strict Liability to Manufacturers, Sellers, and Distributors
Strict liability extends its application to manufacturers, sellers, and distributors, regardless of their position within the chain of commerce. The Missouri Revised Code § 537.760 states explicitly that strict liability applies to a defendant, regardless of their location in the supply chain.
For manufacturers, strict liability imposes a significant responsibility. They are accountable for designing, producing, and marketing safe products to consumers. This means taking adequate measures to ensure that the products are free from defects in manufacturing and design. Additionally, manufacturers are liable for inadequate warnings or instructions that could harm or injure the consumer.
Sellers also face strict liability for their role in the distribution of products. If they sell defective products to consumers, they can be held responsible for any resulting harm. Sellers are obligated to warn customers about potential dangers associated with the products. Under the Missouri Revised Code § 537.762, sellers can file a motion to dismiss themselves as defendants in a product liability case. However, this option is subject to certain conditions and criteria.
Similarly, distributors are not exempt from strict liability. They are responsible for the distribution of products and can be liable if they distribute defective products that cause harm to consumers. Thorough quality control measures become crucial for distributors to ensure that products meet the necessary safety standards.
Reach Out to Our Team Today
Strict liability is a crucial legal concept that holds manufacturers, sellers, and distributors accountable for the safety and quality of their products. Understanding strict liability is of utmost importance for injured parties seeking compensation.
Navigating product liability matters can be complex. Therefore, consulting a personal injury lawyer well-versed in the law is crucial. They can provide guidance, evaluate the merits of a case, and advocate for the rights of injured parties.
To discuss your case with one of our Kansas City lawyers at Bertram & Graf, L.L.C., please contact us at (888) 398-2277.