What must I prove in order to win a product liability case?

When a drug, device, or consumer product you use causes harm, you may be able to file a product liability claim and recover compensation. In order to have a successful claim, however, you must be able to prove the following:

  • You were injured or suffered losses: Without an actual injury or monetary loss, your product liability claim will never get off the ground. The injury doesn’t have to be physical (emotional harm counts too). Nor does the loss have to be physical (loss of earning capacity, for example, is legitimate). But if the product in question did not cause some type of personal setback, you probably don’t have a case.
  • The product has a defect: Similar to the concept of loss, the concept of defect is fairly broad. A product could have a flawed design, a manufacturing error, or an inadequate warning about possible risks (i.e. marketing defect).
  • The product defect caused your injury: Just because you used a defective product and suffered an injury does not mean that the defect was directly responsible for your harm. The defect must be the sole, actual cause (cause in fact) of the harm. If personal actions or factors placed you at increased risk of injury, you’ll have a harder time proving your case.
  • You used the product as intended: The product must be used as the manufacturer specifies, or in a way the manufacturer could reasonably expect the average person to use it.