Who Do I Sue in a California Defective Product Liability Claim?

Defective products cause thousands of serious consumer injuries in the US annually. Common examples include defective vehicles, children’s toys and household appliances. It is a manufacturer’s legal duty to ensure the safety of its products. When an item contains a defect that causes injuries, it is the manufacturer that typically bears liability.

Product Manufacturer Duties of Care

All companies that manufacture and produce goods for consumer use have legal duties of care. They must exercise a reasonable degree of prudence in creating safe and effective products for customers. In general, a manufacturer has a duty to do what a reasonable manufacturer would in a similar situation. If a manufacturer acts outside of this duty of care and a customer suffers an injury or illness as a result, the manufacturer could be liable for related damages.

A manufacturing company does not have to create a perfect product. The duty of care is simply to take the steps and actions that a reasonable manufacturer would to minimize the probability of consumer injuries. These steps might include designing safe products, consulting with safety and health experts, testing the product, inspecting the item and assembly line regularly, properly training workers, and responding promptly to consumer complaints. If a manufacturing company breaches any of its duties of care and creates an unreasonably dangerous product, it could be liable for a related injury based on the grounds of negligence.

Manufacturing companies will not only be liable for the failure to fulfill a duty of care, however. The doctrine of strict product liability is in place to protect consumers from dangerous and defective products. This law holds manufacturing facilities strictly liable – liable without needing proof of negligence – for defective products that cause injuries. This law serves customers by not requiring them to prove negligence when going up against large and powerful manufacturing companies.

How Does Strict Liability Work?

Under the strict product liability law, you could file a product liability claim without proof of the manufacturing company’s negligence if you can prove a few main facts to be more likely true than not true. The first is that the product contains a defect. You or your product liability lawyer will need to establish that the item in question contained a defect in its design, manufacturing and/or marketing aspects. The second is that the defect caused your injuries. Your lawyer will need to prove that the product defect was the proximate cause of your injuries or property damages. The third is that you were using the product as the manufacturer intended at the time of your injury. The fourth and final element is proof that you suffered compensable damages.

Other Possible Defendants

The manufacturing company that released the defective or dangerous product typically acts as the defendant for product liability claims in California. Other parties involved in the item’s creation, distribution and/or sale, however, could also bear full or partial fault.

  • Product part manufacturer
  • Distributor
  • Retailer/seller
  • Contractor
  • Third party

Discovering who is legally to blame for your product-related injuries may take help from a team of investigators. Hiring an attorney in California could make it easier to trace the cause of your injury and bring a strong cause of action against the correct defendant(s).

Statute of Limitations on California Product Liability Claims

In California, you have no more than two years from the date of your personal injury to file a product liability claim against a manufacturer or another party. If you do not adhere to this deadline, the courts in Sacramento County likely will not accept your case. With the discovery rule, however, the two-year clock will not start ticking until the date you recognize – or reasonably should have recognized – the cause of your injuries. Work with a personal injury lawyer from the beginning of your product liability lawsuit to fulfill all the state’s laws and legal requirements.