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People often place their personal and financial well-being into the reliance upon products. When these products fail, great harm can result. The ways in which a consumer of a failing product may recover for product repair or replacement, property damage and personal injury depend on the circumstances.
The Hand Formula for Determining Negligence
Manufacturers can be found negligent in the way they design or market products. Courts use a formula to determine if the consumer has a cause of action after suffering harm arising out of the malfunction of a product. The formula is expressed as PL>B, where B is the burden of the manufacturer in implementing the design, manufacture and quality control necessary to prevent the harm, P is the probability of harm to be caused by the product, and L is the degree of harm. While it seems extraordinarily illogical for an abstract legal concept such as negligence to be expressed in mathematical terms, it works well in judging liability. This formula was introduced by Judge Learned Hand.
Simply put, this formula considers whether the likelihood of harm joined with the possible gravity of it outweighs the burden of the manufacturer in implementing procedures, alternative designs, or materials to prevent the harm. If it does, the manufacturer is liable for failing to implement those alternatives. If the alternatives are more costly, the manufacturer incurs no liability for utilizing the methods chosen.
Strict Products Liability
At times, injuries caused by products will be recoverable by a plaintiff who need not demonstrate negligence on the part of the manufacturer, as discussed above. Rather than focus on the behavior of the manufacturer, strict products liability focuses on the inanimate product, itself. Any user of the product who is injured can make a cause of action in such a case.
The defendant in such a case must be a manufacturer or merchant who regularly sells such products. Occasional sellers such as flea market vendors usually incur no liability from strict product liability cases.
To be valid, the harm must extend beyond the product itself, and have injured a person or damage other property. Also, the product must be a physical good and not a service. If it is hybrid of both, the preponderance of it must be a physical product.
To prove such a case, the injured party must demonstrate an actual defect. This may take the form in a design, manufacture, or warning failure associated with the product.
A manufacturing flaw arises when the product somehow deviates from the intended design during the manufacturing process. Foreign matter found in canned goods is a common form of this defect.
Design flaws arise when the product is manufactured exactly as planned, but the design is somehow bad and leads to harm. A theoretical product with exposed, live electrical wiring would be an example of a design flaw.
Lastly, a defect might exist in the failure of the manufacturer to warn about relevant characteristics of the product likely to cause harm to the user.
Get Legal Representation to Gain Just Compensation
If you or a loved one has suffered personal injury or property damage caused by a defective product, assert your rights and demand just monetary compensation. The law provides remedies for harmful products, but only a licensed and experienced attorney can recover your full claim as allowed by law. Contact the attorneys at the Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC in Virginia for a free and confidential consultation by calling 703-370-8088.