A defective product poses a serious danger to consumers and may result in injury or death if it malfunctions.
A manufacturer that releases a dangerous product into the market can be held liable for any harm caused to consumers.
If you or someone you love has been affected by a defective product, this guide will explain the basics of what you need to know to bring a product liability claim. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact Greg Coleman Law’s Knoxville product liability attorneys for help filing a claim.
What is Product Liability?
Product liability is an area of law that allows a manufacturer, designer or retailer to be held liable for providing a dangerous or defective product to consumers.
Products are required to meet the average expectations of a consumer. This means that if used properly, the product should work as intended.
However, if a product is used correctly, but harms its user or has an unexpected defect that prevents it from performing the way it was marketed, any manufacturer, designer or retailer associated with the product could be held liable.
How Do I Know if I Have a Product Liability Claim?
In Tennessee, a successful product liability claim depends on whether you can prove the product was “unreasonably dangerous” or in a “defective condition” when the manufacturer distributed it to the market.
You will need to show the product was more dangerous than the average consumer would have expected, or that a reasonably prudent manufacturer would not have released the product had it known of its potential danger.
This does not mean that the manufacturer was aware of the product’s danger, only that had it been aware of the danger, it would have never marketed the product.
A defective product is one that was improperly designed or never worked as it was intended.
To prove a product is defective, you will need to establish that some part or condition of the product made it unsafe for normal use.
There are three types of defects that would make a product unsafe:
- Design defect: A design flaw that existed before the manufacturing process that makes it dangerous
- Manufacturing defect: A defect or flaw that originated during the manufacturing process
- Marketing defect: A product that is improperly marketed, lacks instructions or does not have an adequate safety warning about its potential dangers
For a product liability case to be successful, the product must be in the same condition as it was when it left the manufacturer. For this reason, it is important that you keep the product in the exact condition as when you bought it or it harmed you.
Who is Liable in a Product Liability Claim?
The at-fault party, or defendant, named in a product liability claim can be any party that created, marketed or sold a dangerous or defective product to a consumer.
This means you could bring a product liability claim against any party that directly participated in delivering the product to you, including:
- The entity that designed the product or any of its parts
- The product’s manufacturer
- The manufacturer of the product’s components
- The party that assembles or installs the product
- The wholesaler
- The retail store that sold you the product
What is Strict Liability?
Product liability claims in Tennessee are often determined by the principle of strict liability, which holds manufacturers or companies responsible for their products regardless of any negligence on their part.
Under strict liability, you do not need to show intentional or negligent conduct, only that the defendant’s actions prompted strict liability that caused you to suffer harm.
During a product liability claim, you do not need to prove the manufacturer or seller of the product was negligent. You only need to prove that you did not tamper with or misuse the product.
If you are filing a claim against a non-manufacturer who sold or rented you the product, strict liability would apply only if that party is in the business of regularly selling or renting those kinds of products.
This would include retail stores that are well established as a consumer-based business. Strict liability would likely not apply to a third-party seller, such as an informal purchase at a garage sale or a flea market.
Defenses Used Against Product Liability Claims
Although a product liability case may seem simple and straightforward, manufacturers and sellers of defective products have several defenses that can be used to avoid liability.
The defendant may attempt to attribute your negligence as the reason for the product’s defect and that you are responsible for injuring yourself.
A product liability defense often resembles the following examples:
- You misused the product in a manner not intended by the manufacturer and caused your own injury
- You were aware that the product was defective and posed a risk
- You continued to use the product even though you knew it was potentially dangerous
- You altered the product in a way that caused the product to become defective and dangerous
In most product liability cases, you will be required to connect your injury back to the manufacturer or seller that allegedly caused the defect.
You will need to sufficiently identify the party you believe is responsible for the defect and provide evidence that supports your claim.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Product Liability Claim
In Tennessee, there are several statutes of limitations you will need to follow in order to successfully bring a product liability claim.
Any action against a manufacturer or seller in Tennessee must be brought within:
- Six years of the date of the injury
- 10 years from the date on which the product was first purchased or used by the consumer
- One year after the expiration or life expectancy of the product.
You must abide by these deadlines to recover compensation for your injury. If you fail to meet the statute of limitations, you cannot recover damages or seek legal justice.
Experienced Knoxville Attorneys Today
The personal injury lawyers in Knoxville at Greg Coleman Law will help you file a claim to ensure it clearly follows the requirements of a product liability case and meets Tennessee’s statute of limitations.
If you have been injured or lost someone you love because a product’s defect made it dangerous, do not hesitate to contact us for a free, no obligation consultation. We will review your claim to determine how the manufacturer or seller can be held liable for your accident.
We only work on a contingency fee basis and provide all of our legal and investigative services for no upfront cost. You only need to pay our product liability lawyers if we recover compensation for your claim.
Call (865) 247-0080 today to schedule your free consultation.