The Strict Liability Standard

Under a theory of strict liability, a manufacturer, developer, or vendor is legally obligated to compensate an injured user of the product upon a showing that the product was defective. The injured party need not show that the manufacturer, developer, or vendor was “at fault” in presenting a product on the market. The injured consumer need only show that the entity sold, developed, manufactured, or invented a defective product.

Defining “defective product” has taken much court time and energy. Stated simply, a “defect” in a product may be defined as a “problem, weakness or omission that is related or connected to its safety or safe use.” Taking the analysis one step further, there are many classes of defects which may render a product legally defective, namely, defects in design, manufacturing, or a deficiency in the products labeling, instructions or warning.

When a product is placed in the stream of commerce, there exists the public belief and expectation that the developer, manufacturer, or vendor “stands behind its product.” In recognition of this, the law imposes a duty on the provider to warrant that the product is fit for its ordinary or intended purpose or use and that, if a product, through ordinary use, is unreasonably dangerous to the consumer, that the developer, manufacturer, or vendor will be held accountable for damages.

In summary, to prove a claim under a doctrine of strict liability a consumer must establish that the injury was caused by a product that was defective in design, manufacturing, labeling, instructions, or warnings and, in light of that defect was unreasonably dangerous to the injured party.