Product Liability, Protecting the Right of American Consumers
Product liability laws are welcomed by America’s buying public due to their effectiveness in protecting consumers from dangerous, low-quality products. Product liability is that area of the law which holds manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, sellers, and all others who see to the availability of products to the public liable for the harm these products cause consumers. Its primary intent is to protect consumers and to end the thousands of injuries that dangerous and defective products cause every year.
For example, some famous product liability suits that found success include defective cars that exploded if collided with, coffee that was served so hot it presented a scalding danger if spilled on a person, and pool drains whose suction force was literally strong enough to disembowel a human. Not all product liability lawsuits are clear cut, and they often require the assistance of a legal professional to help prove the lawsuit.
The Bureau of Consumer Protection of the Federal Trade Commission is the branch of government which makes sure that consumers get exactly what they pay for, and not end up taking home a defective or dangerous product instead. Besides this, the bureau also works to stop fraudulent, deceptive and unjust business practices by: formulating and implementing fair marketplace rules; accepting consumer complaints and investigating reports of product defects; filing suits against people and/or companies that deceive consumers or violate consumer rights; and, educating consumers and business firms about their rights, duties and responsibilities.
In the past, claims due to product liability had to be supported by a “privity of contract,” a contractual relationship between the seller and the person who bought and was subsequently injured by the product. In majority of the states today, however, the fact that the product was sold and injured someone is enough to hold the seller (or anyone involved in the chain of distribution) liable while allowing for the injured party to seek compensation.
Product liability claims are actually based on three suppositions: negligence, breach of warranty and strict liability. Negligence can be imputed on product manufacturers who either failed to do something that ought to have been done or did something that was totally not part of the production process. Regardless of what it actually is, negligence the results to harm boils down to one fact – the lack of care required in the design or production of the product to be made available to the buying public.
Failure to fulfill any claim or promise made about any product or service, on the other hand, such as a universal remote control that was guaranteed to control any electronic equipment you have in your home, but ends up controlling only your television set, is what comprises breach of warranty. And then there is strict liability which extends the manufacturer’s or seller’s liability, to the injury or harm cause by the product, to all those affected and actually injured by it, that is the purchaser and all other persons who were affected by it.
Though product liability law falls only under the jurisdiction of the state, there is another law that protects the buyers at both the state and federal level – the Consumer Rights Law. This law, with the consumer protection law, gives every consumer the means to expose and stop abusive business practices, which, by the way, is not limited to the manufacture and distribution of defective and harmful goods, but includes services performed rudely and through abuse. One example is collection of payment for credit card debts by collectors who would deliberately call you at very inconvenient times or where you would not want to be contacted, like at the workplace. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) can mandate collectors, who resort to these acts of harassment, to pay their victim $1,000 in statutory damage, plus legal fees resulting from the lawsuit filed by the victim against them.