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How is negligence used in California product liability cases?

California civil lawsuit, concerning flawed consumer products sometimes do not require plaintiffs to prove manufacturer negligence. Strict liability complaints are essentially no-fault claims for damages, based upon the unusually dangerous nature of a product. Strict liability is associated with the product defect rather than any carelessness by the manufacturer.

Negligence proof is at the heart of defective product claims that do not involve strict liability. Negligence claims accuse a manufacturer of violating an obligation to provide consumers with products safe to use. The direct relationship between a manufacturer, seller or distributor's actions and an injured plaintiff must be established, whether the plaintiff was the buyer or someone else harmed by a defendant's product.

A plaintiff may allege fault occurred in one or more areas of the product making and selling chain: design, production, assembly, distribution, sales or marketing. Fault may include a negligent action or a lack of action, causing a product flaw leading to an injury or death.

For example, a marketing defect could include the failure to warn consumers about hidden dangers associated with the use of a product.

In some cases, manufacturers are liable for making false or incomplete claims about a product's performance. To prove misrepresentation, a plaintiff must show the manufacturer's exaggerations or lack of vital product information caused an injury and losses.

Negligence, in this situation, is tied to a manufacturer's purposeful or reckless behavior. The consumer's injury is the result of trusting the product maker's instructions, warning labels and advertising claims. Remember, the manufacturer is required to meet a standard, including the promise not to put unsafe products on the market.

Whether or not a product liability lawsuit contains a claim of negligence depends upon the circumstances of individual cases. Attorneys may employ one or more theories of liability to pursue an action against a manufacturer or other related parties accused of harming a plaintiff.

Source: Sam Houston State University, "Strict Liability and Product Liability" Jan. 05, 201

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