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Several legal theories may form basis of product liability claims, P.2

In our last post, we began looking at the legal theories that can be used in product liability claims. As we noted, the three basic theories are negligence, breach of warranty and strict liability. Strict liability claims, again, do not depend on a plaintiff’s ability to show failure to exercise reasonable care or breach of an established warranty.

Though the exact requirements vary from state to state, strict liability generally only requires showing that the product in question was had an unreasonably dangerous defect, that the defect caused injury during ordinary use of the product, and that no significant changes affecting the performance of the product had been made.

One of the questions that can arise in strict liability claims is: exactly what evidence is required to demonstrate an unreasonably dangerous defect? By the same token: what kind of evidence can a designer or manufacturer use to defend itself against accusations that there was an unreasonably dangerous defect? A recent California product liability case involves just this issue.

The case involves a man who suffered neck and spinal cord injury after losing control of his Toyota pickup truck in wet road conditions and crashing into an embankment. He subsequently sued Toyota, alleging that because the company only offered electronic stability control as an option for the vehicle, and did not automatically include the feature, they had put a defective product on the market.

The case specifically involved the treatment of evidence of industry practice. In our next post, we’ll continue looking at the case, and why it is critical to work with an experienced attorney when pursuing any product liability case. 

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