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Product liability refers to the liability of any or all parties along the whole chain of manufacture of any product for damages caused by that product. The parties that incur product liability range from the manufacturers of component parts (at the top of the chain), assembling manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, wholesalers to the retail store owners (at the bottom of the chain).

Products containing inherent defects that cause harm to a consumer of the product, or someone to whom the product was loaned, given, etc., are the subjects of product liability suits. Nowadays, product liability claims are not restricted to tangible personal item, but have extended to include intangible items, naturals, real estate and writings. The following shows the examples of different types of products that product liability claims comprise.

Product Types
Tangible personal property Toys, electrical appliances etc.
Intangible Gas
Natural Pets
Real estate House
Writings Navigational charts

In any jurisdiction, one must prove that the product is defective. Three major types of product liability claims incur in manufacturers and suppliers include design defects, manufacturing defects and marketing defects. These product liability claims can be based on some theories of product liability, including negligence, strict liability and breach of warranty, depending on the jurisdiction within which the claim is based.

To reduce the plaintiff's burden of proof against manufacturers or retailers, product liability is generally considered a strict liability offense. Under strict liability, plaintiff is not required to prove that the defendant's conduct fell below the relevant standard of care; instead, they only need to prove that the product is defective and the defective product causes injuries, the manufacturer or supplier would be liable for it no matter how great care they exercise.



1. From the book: Abbott, H. (1997). Safer by design : a guide to the management and law of designing for product safety. Aldershot, England; Brookfield, Vt: Gower.

2. From the website:

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Last updated on 28 MAR 2010