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Product liability basics for Pennsylvania consumers

Pennsylvanians buy and use hundreds, perhaps thousands, of products in their lifetime. These products can range from food to household implements and items for babies and children. While most products serve their intended purpose as expected, there are others that cause injuries and even deaths due to defects. In these situations, Pennsylvanians may be able to file a product liability lawsuit to hold the responsible party liable.

Product liability is defined as a seller or a manufacturer being held responsible for allowing a defective product to reach a consumer. The law requires products to adhere to certain quality standards. If a product was found to have defects that caused harm to a consumer, the consumer can pursue a product liability lawsuit. In a legal action, responsibility for the defective product can lie with many parties in the manufacturing and distribution process, including: the manufacturer of the product or parts of the product, the company who installed or assembled it, the wholesaler and the retail store.

During a product liability case, a defect has to be established to hold another party legally responsible. There are three types of defects related to product liability. One is defect of design, which refers to a defect that is present, even before the product is manufactured. Second is manufacturing defects that occur during the product's assembly. Finally, there are marketing defects, including improper labels, sub-par safety warnings and ineffective instructions. It is important that inherently dangerous products, like knives and chainsaws, are labeled according so consumers are well informed.

Despite the straightforward definition of product liability, Pennsylvanians should not file a lawsuit without first consulting a product liability legal professional. Such legal action can be very complex and expertise may be necessary to establish a claim.

Source: Findlaw.com, "What is Product Liability?," accessed on Sep. 21, 2014

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