Product Liability in Maryland and The District of Columbia (D.C.)
What is strict liability?
In a strict liability case, the victim injured by the product does not have the burden of proving a specific act of negligence; rather, the injured victim’s obligation is to prove that the product was in a defective condition and unreasonably dangerous at the time it was sold. The defect may be a defect in design and/or one that occurred during the manufacturing process.
Do I win if I prove strict liability?
Not necessarily. A Plaintiff in a products liability case must prove that they were injured, that the product caused the injury, and that the product was defective. The Court will not let an injured Plaintiff submit his or her case to a jury, unless the Plaintiff produces sufficient evidence of a legally compensable injury.
What is the economic loss doctrine?
If the Plaintiff’s damages in a product liability case are premised on economic losses alone, then the Plaintiff has an obligation to demonstrate that the defective product creates a dangerous condition (i.e., one that gives rise to a clear danger of death or personal injury). Absent such a showing, the economic loss doctrine will preclude a Plaintiff from recovering in their product liability case for purely economic losses.
How do I prove that a product is defective and unreasonably dangerous, for strict liability purposes?
A court in Maryland will apply either the risk/utility test or the consumer expectation test. The consumer expectation test makes the seller of a product that is in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the consumer liable for the physical harm caused to the consumer by that product. The risk-utility test deems a product unreasonably dangerous and defective if the danger presented by the product outweighs its utility, with the focus typically being on the availability of an alternative design, and is applied in design defect cases, but only where the product malfunctions in some way.
Can I sue the manufacturer of the product?
Yes. In Maryland, a product manufacturer generally has a duty to exercise reasonable care in manufacturing, designing, and selling its products so as to make the products reasonably safe for intended or foreseeable uses.
Can I sue anyone other than the manufacturer of the product?
In terms of a strict liability case, if the product is defective when sold by a manufacturer and if the product reaches the plaintiff without substantial change, then middlemen or other intermediate sellers of the defective product are strictly liable to the plaintiff, in addition to the manufacturer.
Can I sue if the product had a defective warning?
Yes, a failure to warn or insufficiency of a warning is basically the same as the product being defective. Under a claim for failure to warn, one is basically tasked with making negligence type claims. However, the general rule is that a manufacturer or supplier does not have to warn a consumer about an obvious danger, irrespective if the consumer did not know about it.
Do manufacturers and other Defendants in product liability cases raise defenses?
Yes. A defendant may raise assumption of the risk as a defense, among others. In terms of assumption of risk, the Defendant has the burden of establishing that the Plaintiff knew and appreciated the risk and voluntarily chose to encounter it. Typically, the question of whether a Plaintiff assumed the risk is a question of fact to be resolved by the jury, though will look at the issue from an objective person’s standard (i.e., not what the Plaintiff would have appreciated, but what a reasonable person in the Plaintiff’s shoes would have appreciated). Fortunately, contributory negligence is not a defense in a strict liability action.
Contact Henderson Law, Today
At Henderson Law, we enjoy a long track record of success in handling complex and challenging cases that other law firms shy way from. We understand that every case it unique and that every client comes to us with individual concerns.
If you think that you may have a product liability claim, contact us online or call (410) 721-1979 so that we can set up a time to go over your case and discuss your options with you.
Henderson Law is accepting new cases in the District of Columbia and Maryland. Henderson Law is willing to take new clients across the State of Maryland, including, but not limited to, new cases arising in the following cities: Annapolis, Crofton, Bowie, Upper Marlboro, Crownsville, Davidsonville, Edgewater, Millersville, Odenton, Severna Park, and Pasadena. Please call Henderson Law for an initial consultation.