The Legal Nurse: Understanding Product Liability
Legal nurse consultants are working today in cases involving legal nursing related product liability. Many people share a common misconception that the only proof that is required in product liability cases is prove regarding product defect and injury to the plaintiff. This is entirely not the case as the process is a little bit more complicated and specialized than that. In fact, product liability law suits are more expensive and complicated compared to other kinds of lawsuits. This article presents a good review of the issues surrounding product liability claims of negligence. Legal nurses will appreciate this quick review and incorporate the information into their practices.
For instance, in a typical product liability case, industry expert witnesses in the field that is in question have to be consulted for them to help prove that a particular product was indeed defective. They normally do this using a number of ways. It is important to note that there are many ways in which the experts can prove that a fault existed in a product liability law suit. The main ways of proving negligence include; through inaction or negligent acts; through strict liability; breach of warranty and fraud.
Inaction or negligent acts
If a lawsuit alleges that there is product liability negligence, then there are four main elements that have to be proven for the lawsuit to be successful. First and foremost, there must be proof of duty of care owed to the plaintiff by the defendant. For the case to be successful, the duty of care owed to the plaintiff has to have been breached thus resulting in injury to the plaintiff. Finally, a causal link has to exist between the resulting harm and the defendant’s actions which caused breach of duty.
In summary, it is important for the legal nurse to understand the part of the case where inaction or acts of negligence applies to is basically anything that relates to the product in question before it reaches the market. It is however important to note that for product liability cases, it is very difficult to prove acts of negligence on the part of the defendant whether through a failure to act (omission) or a positive act. The basis or concern therefore of most product liability law suits is strict liability.
As discussed above the only element that has to be proven in product liability lawsuits is strict liability i.e. if the product in question had defect/s that caused harm or injury to the plaintiff. For a product liability lawsuit to be successful in terms of proving strict liability, there needs to be no requirement for element of negligence. Also, there needs to be no proof of fault. This basically means that all a manufacturer has to have done is to make the product within the reach of consumers. By supplying the product/s in question to consumers, this has the direct effect of making available or bringing into question all the faults of all parties involved in manufacturing and distributing to the consumer. The manufacturer therefore bares the responsibilities related to the defect/s.
It therefore follows that manufactures should bare the greatest responsibility because they have the greatest control over their products. Manufactures have however argued against this strict liability clause on negligence in product liability law suits. For instance, manufacturers have argued that they should not be held accountable in cases where information came up after the product’s in question manufacture.
Deceit is also an important factor among what must be proven for there to be negligence in product liability law suits. In the case of deceit, the manufacture or the seller has to have communicated truthful information to the consumer about products that are misleading or false for a case to be ruled in favor of the manufacturer/seller. If by any means a manufacturer communicates inaccurate information in order to make sure that a consumer doesn’t find harm in a certain product, then by all means, the responsibility will fall on the manufacturer. If on the other hand the consumer still goes ahead and ignores the warnings of the manufacturer and goes ahead to suffer injury as a result, then it is by no means the responsibility of the manufacturer.
Breach of Warranty
A product liability case also has to prove breach of warranty to stand trial and sentencing. If a product liability case is based on any form of breach of warranty, then the plaintiff has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was responsible for causing the injury by asserting that the product/s in question was harmless or free of any defects yet the defendant failed to confirm/ensure that the products were indeed free of defects.
This kind of a claim is unique and different from claims such as strict liability or negligent acts because the claim is directly related to broking a contractual promise and not inaccurate information like in the case of deceit. It is important to note that in the case of breach of warranty, a promise has to be made either implicitly or explicitly as part of the contract. When a certain promise regarding a product is implied, it has to relate either to the failure to ensure that a certain product is capable of functioning, or that that product will be able to work or serve a specific purpose.
In summary, to be able to prove negligence in a product liability case, there has to be evidence that a manufacturer/supplier holds the responsibility of selling a safe or harmless product. Proving this is easy because all businesses that are tasked with the responsibility of manufacturing and distributing consumer goods have to make sure that they provide safe goods that have warnings in case the goods pose any danger. Also, for a product liability case to be successful, there has to be negligence prove i.e. the seller violating the responsibility to offer safe/harmless products up to the point the consumer gets the goods. This basically means that there has to be proof of a breach of warranty. Lastly a product liability case based on negligence has to prove that the harm or injury was directly caused by the product in question and not any other factors such as sickness. By proving the existence of all the above factors, a product liability law suit will stand a chance. Legal nurse consultants are providing excellent consultations in product liability cases as they relate to medical/health care products. For those registered nurses interesting in learning more about this practice specialty, click here: legal nurse consulting program.