Products Liability: Understanding Your Rights as a Consumer

Retro guarantee symbolCompanies, both large and small, have an obligation to provide their consumers with products that are safe to use and will not cause unreasonable injury. This liability can be assigned to a product designer, manufacturer, producer, or even retailer in certain circumstances. In addition to the products themselves, product liability law also covers the necessity for reasonable and understandable warnings and safe packaging practices. The basic premise of product liability law is that companies have a legal duty to provide safe products to consumers and failure to do so can lead to legal liability.

The governing law in Massachusetts

Chapter 93a of the Massachusetts General Laws governs consumer protection practices, including product liability. Most jurisdictions throughout the country have adopted some form of the Model Product Liability Act, which suggests “best practices” for jurisdictions to adopt.Given the wide range of participants in the manufacture or design of a product, the movement over state lines, and the complexity of many product cases, many product liability claims are heard in federal, not state court.

Massachusetts, like many jurisdictions, has a three-year “statute of limitations” for filing a product liability tort action. A tort is defined as a civil wrong. The statute of limitations in this context means that no action can be filed more than three years after the incident occurred. These laws are designed to protect the consumer by giving them ample time to realize any long-term injury or disability, while still protecting the manufacturer from claims that are too far removed from the alleged accident or injury.

Product Liability Claims

Product liability claims can arise from an accident or injury that is attributed to using a product the way it was intended to be used. Improper or unreasonable use can be used as a viable defense for defendants in product liability cases, however, many product liability cases are based on design defects, which means there was something inherently wrong with the way the product was designed. This means that all of the product distributed had some sort of inherent flaw. Consequently, manufacturing defects usually mean that something happened to your individual product during the manufacturing process —that is, the one product you purchased is defective, but the others are not. The liability on the company in both instances can be significant, depending on the nature and circumstances of the accident or injury.

If a person utilizes a product the way it was intended to be used and an injury results, the company or companies involved in the process of design and manufacture may be held responsible. As a consumer, you have a right to purchase products that are reasonably safe to use, and companies have a responsibility to put only reasonably safe products (with adequate warnings) on the market.

Boston Product Liability Attorneys

John J. Sheehan understands how important it is to be able to trust companies that provide the products we use on a daily basis. When we are harmed due to the negligence of another, we have a legal right to recourse. Our experienced Boston products liability attorneys know how to navigate complex product liability claims at both the state and federal level. We will advocate on your behalf and ensure that you understand what is going on every step of the way, and make sure that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to by law. Do not hesitate to contact our Boston office today to learn more about your legal rights.