The Defect Must Cause the Injury
In order for the injured party to successfully bring a product liability claim, it is important to establish that the injury was caused by the specific defect in the product. This may be more complicated than you may think in some cases. Product makers often defend products by attempting to break the causal chain. In other words, product makers may argue that the product defect was not the cause of the injury, or was such an indirect or remote cause of the injury, as to be legally invalid.
The Product Must Have Been Used as It Was Intended
Product makers also often employ the strategy of blaming the consumer for causing their own injuries. In essence, the company defends its product by saying that the consumer’s injury or death was not caused by a defective product, but instead by the consumer’s misuse of the product.
Generally speaking, a product should be used in a manner that was intended by the manufacturer. If an injured party used a product in an unintended manner or in a manner that was not foreseeable by the manufacturer, then the manufacturer may have grounds to defend the case based on the consumer’s misuse of the product. So, for example, if a person is seriously injured while using a lawnmower to trim hedges, or cuts off a finger while juggling butcher knives, you’re probably going to have a tough time pursuing a valid product liability case.
That said, consumers shouldn’t be confused into thinking that a product must be used in absolute and exact conformity with the manufacturer’s specifications. A manufacturer of a product is under a duty of care to reasonably anticipate that consumers sometimes do use products in ways that may not be intended, but should be expected. If a manufacturer could reasonably expect or predict that a consumer would use a product in a foreseeable manner, even if unintended, then the manufacturer may still be liable for the consumer’s injuries. Simply put, the legal notion of intended use includes any reasonably foreseeable misuse of a product.