Product Liability: Who is Responsible When Products Cause Harm?

In an era where consumer products are more complex than ever, understanding who bears responsibility when these products cause harm is crucial. Product liability is a legal concept that focuses on holding manufacturers, distributors, and sellers accountable for releasing a product into the market that is defective and causes injury or damage. This field of law is essential because it ensures that the burden of a defective product does not fall unfairly on the consumer.


Key Players in Product Liability

  1. Manufacturers: The first link in the chain, manufacturers are typically at the forefront of product liability claims. This includes not only the company that assembles the product but also those that produce components or raw materials. The manufacturer is usually held responsible if a defect originates at this stage.


  1. Distributors and Retailers: Distributors and retailers can also be liable, especially if they sell a product knowing it’s defective or fail to provide adequate warnings or instructions. While they might not have created the defect, their role in getting the product to consumers implicates them in the liability chain.


  1. Third-Party Certifiers and Inspectors: In some industries, third-party certifiers or inspectors play a role in ensuring product safety. If they fail in their duty, they too can be held accountable.



Types of Product Defects

  1. Design Defects: These occur when a product is inherently unsafe, even before it’s manufactured, due to a flaw in its design.


  1. Manufacturing Defects: These defects occur during the production or assembly of a product. Even if the product’s design is safe, errors in manufacturing can render it dangerous.


  1. Marketing Defects: Also known as “failure to warn” defects, these involve inadequate instructions, warnings, or labeling that fail to inform the user of potential risks.



Legal Theories in Product Liability

  1. Negligence: This requires proving that the manufacturer or seller breached a duty of care, leading to the consumer’s injury.


  1. Strict Liability: Under strict liability, a company can be held responsible for a defective product regardless of whether they were negligent. The focus here is on the product’s defectiveness, not the manufacturer’s conduct.


  1. Breach of Warranty: This refers to a failure to fulfill the terms of a promise or representation made about the product’s quality or safety.


The landscape of product liability is complex, reflecting the intricate web of entities involved in bringing products to market. Anyone who has experienced a defective product must comprehend these nuances. Consumers should be aware of their rights, and companies should rigorously ensure that their products meet safety standards to prevent injuries to the public. 


At Vames, Wang & Sosa Injury Lawyers, we understand the intricacies of product liability cases. Our team is equipped to navigate these complex legal waters, ensuring that our clients are fairly compensated for their injuries and losses due to defective products. Reach out to us for a thorough legal evaluation if a defective product has affected you.

Emery Wang

Emery Wang

Emery Wang has been a lawyer in Oregon since 2009. While attending Lewis & Clark law school, Emery worked as a Multnomah County District Attorney, and since then has been a full time personal injury lawyer.

Vames, Wang & Sosa Injury Lawyers focus on vehicle crashes, personal injury, and first-party car accident insurance claims. They have offices located in Gresham and Hillsboro.

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