Strict Liability Fault in a Product Liability Lawsuit

Lisa M. Nousek has worked as a partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP in Armonk, New York, for nearly a decade. As an attorney with the firm, Lisa M. Nousek represents clients in complex civil litigation, such as product liability cases.

Some of the nation’s most notable product liability cases involve settlements in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In order to achieve a successful verdict in a product liability case, plaintiffs must prove that fault lies with the defendant and that physical or property damages have been rendered through some form of negligence. In determining fault, defendants may often argue on the basis of strict liability fault.

A case of strict liability may be charged against a company or manufacturer if a product meets three basic qualifications. First, any potentially dangerous defect charged to the product must be deemed unreasonably so, and must have resulted in some kind of injury for the user. Second, any injury or damage caused by the defect must have occurred while the product was being used in accordance with instructions and for its intended purpose. Finally, the product should not differ in any substantial way from how it appeared and functioned on first use. For example, strict liability may fail when considering a product that had been used for several years and needed to be replaced.

A defendant charged with strict liability during a product liability case often relies on the awareness of defect defense. Under this defense, businesses and manufacturers contest that the user knew about the defect or poor condition of the product and continued to use it anyway. An awareness of defect defense argues that in doing so, the consumer has waived his or her rights to personal damages.

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