Overview of Theories of Liability When Defective Products Cause Injury or Wrongful Death in Georgia


November 25, 2013

If a defective product causes a severe debilitating injury, then a product liability claim or lawsuit may offer the best alternative for the injured party to seek redress for his or her diminished quality of life, along with financial compensation for the victim's medical bills, lost income and other forms of tangible and intangible loss. Product liability law keeps forces manufacturers to take responsible for the safety of the products they create and sell. While most of the commercial products sold each day across the nation do not pose a risk to consumers, there is still a substantial number of poorly designed and manufactured products in the marketplace that can cause injuries. Still other companies that produce unsafe products fail to warn consumers about unseen, potential hazards.

According to Georgia defective product law, liability may be based on one of these three legal theories: (1) negligence; (2) product liability; or (3) breach of warranty. Negligence law in lawsuits involving unsafe products is similar to the concept of negligence in other personal injury cases. When it can be shown that any party in the manufacturing or distribution process of a product, which includes the manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor or retailer, fails to take reasonable care to prevent injury to consumers that results in foreseeable injury, this may form the basis for resulting any resulting injury or wrongful death. If a tractor-trailer slams into a passenger vehicle because the driver cannot stop at a red light due to a defect in the brake system, the vehicle manufacturer may be financially responsible for injuries or deaths caused in a collision. Similarly, a pharmaceutical company may be liable for failing to warn consumers of potentially dangerous or deadly side effects.

Because it can be difficult to prove the precise negligence or responsible party that caused a product to be hazardous, makers of faulty goods may also be held accountable in many situations based on the legal theory of strict liability. This holds whoever sells a new product – whether directly or through a dealer – liable for injuries caused by that product because it simply was not in adequate condition to be safely used by consumers. While the injury victim needs to establish that the defect was present when the product left the control of the defendant, product liability law relieves the plaintiff of the responsibility for establishing the precise origin or cause of the defect.

The third theory of liability in product liability cases is based on breach of warranty. The warranty can be an express warranty provided by the manufacturer in the packaging or paperwork that accompanies the product or a warranty implied by law. An implied warranty may include a warranty that the product essentially performs as one would expect when used as intended or sometimes even in cases of foreseeable misuse.

Georgia imposes a privity of contract requirement in product liability cases based on breach of warranty, which means that only the buyer or a member of the buyer's household can recover under a warranty theory. Because of a peculiarity in the wording of Georgia's wrongful death statute, a product liability claim for wrongful death cannot be founded upon the implied warranty theory, but liability may still be based on strict liability or negligence.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 30 Years of Legal Experience to Work For Your Case

If you or someone you love has suffer serious injury because of a poorly made product, our Atlanta personal injury Lawyers at Montlick and Associates have been representing injury victims for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.