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What theories are used in California product liability claims?

Understanding legal theories helps attorneys and injured parties take the correct approach to a claim. One or more of three theories sets the foundation of California product liability claims. When the claims are successful, a manufacturer or other defendant is ordered to pay damages for losses suffered by a plaintiff.

False or misleading product claims, negligence and strict liability are theories used in product liability cases. Let's first address tortious misrepresentation. Manufacturers may not deceive consumers about product safety, either intentionally or by failing to learn whether a product claim is true.

The plaintiff's injury stems from trust in a manufacturer's claims. The claim is based on untrue or misleading product information provided by the manufacturer. Express warranties can be breached when the quality of a product falls short of sellers' representations.

Under the strict liability theory, a plaintiff is not required to show a company was careless during the manufacturing process. A court is satisfied with proof a product contained a defect and the defect resulted in the plaintiff's losses.

The product liability theory most familiar to many California consumers may be negligence. Under these terms, a plaintiff must produce evidence a defendant was careless, including proof an injury would not have occurred "but for" a manufacturer's negligence. The injured party also must convince the court the defendant should have anticipated the product dangers and uses.

A superficial understanding of these theories might lead you to believe strict liability is the easiest path to a damage award. That might not be true for your particular claim. Attorneys can explain these theories as they would apply to your own case.

In addition to an assessment of a case, a lawyer will prepare you for the work that is required in advance of a claim filing or trial. You will be informed about the approach to the case and possible challenges by the defendant.

Source: FindLaw, "Legal Basis for Liability in Product Cases" Oct. 19, 2014

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