Negligent product liability is a specific aspect of consumer protection law in California. It was designed to hold manufacturers, distributors, and retailers accountable for any harm they directly cause to consumers through their own negligence. If you’re suffering from a negligent product liability case, connect with a California product liability lawyer as soon as you can.

By filing a civil claim against the party whose negligence caused your injuries, you could receive compensation. Your pain and suffering, medical bills, lost income, and property damage that resulted from the negligence of a manufacturer, seller, or distributor are all potentially compensable damages.

Key Elements of Negligent Product Liability

To successfully initiate a claim for negligent product liability, the following four elements must be clearly satisfied. They include:

  • Duty of care: California manufacturers, distributors, and retailers all owe a duty of care to their consumers under the law. This means they must create products in a manner that prevents foreseeable harm. Products must not prevent a danger to consumers when they’re used as intended and instructed. To adhere to the law, companies must invest significant time and energy into testing their products and supervising the quality of the manufacturing steps required to create them. They must also provide clear instructions on how to use the product and any warnings that could prevent consumers from harm.
  • Breach of duty: A “breach of duty” describes any case in which a party responsible for a product fails to meet the standard of care, whether it was intentional or unintentional. For instance, overlooking details, signing off on weak safety testing, or even not properly warning consumers about the potential hazards of a product may all be considered breaches of duty. Proving that a breach of duty occurred will require an understanding of industry standards and what should have been done to prevent the breach.
  • Causation: A plaintiff who is accusing a company or individual of a negligent product liability violation must establish a clear link between the breach of duty and the injuries they have sustained. This means demonstrating in detail that the injury would not have occurred if the responsible party was not negligent. Establishing this connection is one of the most challenging aspects of negligent product liability cases, as it requires a clear trail of evidence that takes significant time to collect and organize into a persuasive argument. An attorney can lead this process and alleviate the difficulties of gathering evidence.
  • Damages: Finally, a plaintiff is only eligible to sue a manufacturer for negligent product liability if there is clear evidence they have suffered actual damages. This evidence can include medical reports that detail specific physical injuries, photographs of property that has been damaged, or even financial reports that show lost money. The damages suffered must also connect to the original breach of duty on the part of the defendant. The aim of this final criterion is to quantify the harm suffered by the plaintiff. Doing so helps to justify exactly what sum of money is appropriate to compensate an individual for the harm they have suffered.


Q: What Is the Difference Between Negligent Product Liability and Strict Liability in California?

A: Negligent liability focuses on the specific conduct of the defendant and how their action or inaction led to the harm of a consumer. In these cases, the plaintiff is required to prove how the defendant breached their duty of care and link the breach to their injury.

Strict product liability claims involve a focus on the products themselves rather than the company’s actions or inactions. If the product is proven to have been defective, the manufacturer can be held responsible regardless of whether they were negligent in their duties or not.

Q: Does a Product Have to Cause Physical Injury for Me to File a Negligent Product Liability Claim?

A: While most claims do have a physical injury component, there are other types of losses a consumer can report within a product liability claim. These can include damage to their own property, financial losses, or even emotional distress.

However, you must still link the manufacturer’s negligence to the specific damage or loss you are claiming. You can do so by demonstrating evidence of defective product design, manufacturer errors, or a lack of instructions or warning labels.

Q: What Should I Do if The Manufacturer Argues That I Misused the Product?

A: A manufacturer may claim that the plaintiff misused their product. If this is something you face in court, there are a few different strategies a product liability attorney may employ to counteract the accusation. One of the most effective strategies, if it’s true to your circumstances, is to demonstrate the gaps or lack of clarity in the product’s instructions.

If this is not true, you could defend yourself against the accusation by leveraging the testimony of any witness who can attest that you did use the product as intended.

Q: What if the Product That Caused Harm Was Not Purchased But Received as a Gift?

A: If you were injured by a product that you have been gifted, it does not diminish your rights to pursue a negligent product liability claim in California. The key detail of these cases is not the ownership of the product but the fact that the product caused harm to you specifically.

While a receipt of purchase is sometimes used as supporting evidence in these cases, the individual who gave you the gift could provide the receipt to the court or give testimony saying it was a present from them to you. You are still required to provide your own evidence of the defect and how it caused your injury, even if it wasn’t something that you purchased directly.

Contact McLachlan Law, APC, Today

If you are involved in a product liability case and need legal support, contact our attorneys today. We understand how challenging it can be to dispute the authority of a large corporation, which is why we strive to counteract the power imbalance and hold companies accountable for their neglect.