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Theories for pursuing California product liability cases

Los Angeles consumers carry the burden of proof in liability claims against product manufacturers. Plaintiffs' cases must show a product maker did something wrong that led to an injury. Keep in mind the definitions of "wrong" can take many forms.

A product liability lawsuit may be based upon strict liability. A plaintiff's evidence must show a manufacturer's product was defective before it reached consumers. Proving this "wrong" does not require direct proof of manufacturer fault, only that somewhere between the design and sale of a product a harmful flaw occurred.

Another theory used to build a foundation for a defective product case is breach of warranty. A manufacturer's warranty is a promise of quality. There are two types of warranties: express and implied.

Express warranties are claims of product quality made by the manufacturer. Implied warranties are presumed assurances, based on the Uniform Commercial Code or a state's version of the U.S. code. Manufacturers often use disclaimers to thwart claims of breach of warranty.

An implied warranty of merchantability guarantees a product will work when used reasonably. An implied warranty of fitness applies to the quality of product performance for a particular use, according to the product seller's advice.

The most recognizable basis for a product liability claim is negligence. A plaintiff is obligated to show the product maker breached a duty of care to make a safe product for consumers. Evidence must prove the defendant's careless behavior injured the plaintiff and resulted in real losses.

Consumers do not have to choose one theory over another to file a product liability claim, although preparing to make a claim of negligence is likely to take more legal preparation than strict liability. These theories may be combined in a lawsuit, as long as the plaintiff is prepared to show a court the necessary proof. An attorney can clarify which theories would be most effective for your case.

Source: FindLaw, "Legal Basis for Liability in Product Cases" Aug. 19, 201

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