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What counts as a real product liability, vs. consumer fault?

You could read some news stories about a product causing an injury that cause you to worry about the safety of certain products, and other stories that make you wonder what the injured party was thinking. Where is the line drawn between a manufacturer being held responsible for an injury and the consumer being the one at fault? It can help for Schenectady residents to understand the factors that constitute a valid product liability case.

According to the Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute, you would need to show that one of three factors occurred in order for a product liability allegation to be considered viable. These include defects in design, manufacturing or marketing.

For example, if you purchased a toy that was later recalled because a spring-loaded mechanism was found to be a projectile hazard, this could be considered a design defect. The toy itself was not broken, but the way it was designed before manufacture ended up posing a danger. On the other hand, you might have bought a folding chair that had a weak spot in one leg, causing it to break. If this defect affected only your chair and not others of the same make, and nothing you did broke the chair, defective manufacturing might be the culprit.

Defective marketing occurs when a product’s instructions or warnings are not clearly written in a way that reasonably prevents an injury. Common sense tells you that it is unsafe to plug in a lamp that has a frayed or damaged cord. However, if there is a risk of fire by not using a specific type of light bulb, this information would need to be explained in the instructions, or you would have no way of knowing.

There are many new products that come out on the market every year. Most of them have been tested and proven safe, but some fall through the cracks. When there is a defect in a product you buy, the manufacturer may be held responsible. This information, however, should not take the place of legal advice.

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