Essex County Products Liability

products liabilityCompanies that design, manufacture and sell products owe a duty of care to end users of their products and must take steps to ensure that the products are reasonably safe for their intended and foreseeable use. If they fail to do so, and the product causes personal injury or property damage, they may be held responsible for any resulting damages under the law.

The New Jersey Product Liability Act

The New Jersey Product Liability Act (NJPLA) governs New Jersey product liability claims. Under this body of law, an injured plaintiff may be able to bring a claim for “strict liability” against the manufacturer of a product where it can be established that the product was defective when it left the hands of the manufacturer. Under the theory of strict liability, the product manufacturer is deemed strictly liable for any damages inflicted by their product on an innocent user. Importantly, the negligence of the manufacturer need not be proven where strict liability applies. In addition to strict liability, there are a number of other claims that plaintiffs many assert under the NJPLA:

  • Design Defect – in a design defect action, a plaintiff must prove that the design of the product was defective and caused the injury.  Under this legal theory, it is alleged that the product was manufactured correctly, but according to a flawed design, which ultimately caused the harms and losses. Examples of design defects are a motor vehicle with a fuel tank located too close to a heat element, which causes the fuel tank to overheat and explode.  Another example is a pharmaceutical drug that is comprised of a harmful combination of chemical ingredients.
  • Manufacturing Defect – a manufacturing defect involves an error that takes place during the manufacture or fabrication of a product that results in a product that deviates from the intended design and is unsafe. A manufacturing defect can arise in a variety of circumstances, and can involve the use of faulty or inferior materials, failure to properly install safety guards and improper quality control. An example might be a car whose brakes fail due to installation of inferior brake materials.  Another example is a food product that becomes tainted due to a manufacturer’s defective quality control in the manufacturing process.
  • Failure to Warn – Many products are dangerous if not used properly. When a product poses a potential hazard, the manufacturer and other responsible parties must provide adequate warnings to users. When a failure to warn of a known hazard leads to damage or harm, product liability may apply. Examples of a failure to warn might involve a manufacturer of an industrial printing press failing to warn of pinch points in the machine, or a pharmaceutical manufacturer failing to warn of potential hazardous side effects of their drug.

Claims for breach of warranty and environmental tort actions generally do not fall under the purview of the NJPLA.

Common Product Liability Claims

Personal injury and property damage can be caused by virtually any defective product. These are just a few examples of potential injury-causing products:

  • Automobiles
  • Medical Devices
  • Hip / Knee Implants
  • Pharmaceutical Drugs
  • Industrial Machinery
  • Tools / Machinery / Manufacturing Equipment
  • Hazardous Materials / Chemicals
  • Asbestos
  • Agricultural Products / Equipment
  • Food Contamination
  • Firearms

Products liability claims involve an in-depth analysis of an injury-causing product, and often the component parts of the product. Numerous parties may be held responsible for the injury, including the designer, manufacturer, seller, supplier, maintainer and others. These claims are complex and benefit from the work of a knowledgeable and experienced products liability attorney. The Essex County Reinartz Law Firm has many years of experience fighting for the rights of those injured by defective products.