PRODUCT LIABILITY WASHINGTON
May 5, 2018
Are you a resident of Washington state who has purchased a consumer product only to have it fail to meet your expectations because it malfunctioned and caused you great pain and lasting injury? If you answered “yes,” then it is important that you familiarize yourself with the consumer protection laws in the state of Washington.
Defective consumer products fall under product liability laws. The United States outlines four claims commonly associated with product liability: negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty, and consumer protection claims. Each type of liability claim requires that certain conditions be established before the claim can be considered successful. Section Two of the “Restatement (Third) of Torts: Product Liability” outlines three major liability claims: “Manufacturing defects,” which cover those defects which occur during the manufacturing process; “Design defects,” which entails defects that may be attributable to inherently dangerous or useless design; and “Failure to warn defects,” which address those defects that elude the consumer’s awareness because of inadequate warning about potentially dangerous, yet not obvious, components of a product.
BREACH OF WARRANTY CLAIMS: A COMMON TYPE OF PRODUCT LIABILITY
Let’s take a closer look at one of the claims most commonly associated with product liability for the average consumer: Breach of warranty. Breach of warranty contains four types of breach of warranty-based product claims:
- Breach of express warranty
- Breach of an implied warranty of merchantability
- Breach of an implied warranty of fitness for a specific purpose
- Breach of an implied warranty of habitability
You’ve probably encountered warranties before while purchasing a big-ticket item like a television or car. Warranties are statements by a manufacturer or seller about the product during a commercial transaction. It stands then that these statements must live up to their promises. When you get involved in a warranty dispute, the negotiations require privity–or direct interaction–between the wronged party and the manufacturer or seller of the defective good.
WASHINGTON’S PRODUCTS LIABILITY ACT
Washington state has adopted a consumer friendly approach for dealing with injuries and deaths resulting from defective consumer products. This consumer friendly approach is set out in the Washington Products Liability Act. This act outlines a legal set of rules concerning responsibility for the manufacture and sale of defective and dangerous consumer products. The act essentially outlines rules and regulations that make it easier for the victim of a defective consumer product to recover damages.
The Washington Products Liability Act outlines two methods for determining whether or not a consumer product is dangerous. The first method asks if the product meets the ordinary expectations of the consumer. If the product is defective and/or dangerous, then the product does not meet the ordinary expectations of the consumer.
Other factors considered when determining if a product meets the ordinary expectations of the consumer are: Likelihood of causing injury, the nature of the product, the cost of producing the product and the cost of eliminating or minimizing the risk.
The second method determines risk and utility. Several factors are considered when determining whether a manufacturer or seller is liable. The following questions are considered when determining the risk and utility of a consumer product: What is the likelihood that the product will cause injury or damage similar to that claimed by the plaintiff? Did the seriousness of the injury exceed warnings placed on the product by the manufacturer? Could the manufacturer have even provided adequate warning for the consumer product?
Under this act the following parties could be responsible for a defective consumer product: The product manufacturer, the manufacturer of component parts, the wholesaler and the store that sold the product to the customer. The statute of limitations on these types of claims can run as long as 12 years.
VICTIM OF A DEFECTIVE PRODUCT? CONSULT A PRODUCT LIABILITY ATTORNEY
Breach of warranty is just one type of product liability claim; there are many others. If you find yourself the victim of a defective product, familiarize yourself with consumer protection laws and seek legal counsel. Only a lawyer trained in product liability law will be able to help you navigate the often complex process of filing a product liability claim, ensuring you receive adequate compensation for any pain and suffering incurred from a defective product.
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