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Who can be held responsible for product liability?

Montana consumers may purchase defective products unknowingly. If injury results, a consumer may recover some of the financial loss incurred as a result of the injury. Liability law is not governed by federal laws, and state statutes are used. Under the concept of strict liability, a consumer is obligated to prove they were harmed by the defective product without proving manufacturer negligence.

If a product fails to meet the consumer's rightful expectation that it is safe to use in the intended manner, everyone in the distribution chain for that product may be named in a product liability claim. This means not only the manufacturer of the product may be held liable but also the company that built component parts or the party that installed or assembled them. In addition, an intermediate wholesaler and the retail establishment may be held accountable.

A consumer does not have to actively purchase the product, such as in the case of a rental car. Under product liability law, someone is expected to have purchased it. Common to all liability cases is the plaintiff's ability to prove the product is defective and dangerous. This may involve the product's design, its manufacture or its marketing. The latter type of defect covers inadequate instructions, labeling mistakes or insufficient warnings concerning safety. In addition, modification of the product by the consumer may not occur and voids the obligation.

Defective products may cause serious injury. The injured consumer may initiate a product liability suit to recover costs incurred due to the injury. Such claims may be complex, and an attorney with experience in product liability cases may confer with experts to establish fault and research other complaints about the product to build a strong case. The attorney may also help the victim calculate financial loss.

Source: Findlaw, "What is Product Liability?", October 01, 2014

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