Products Liability: A Primer, Part 1: Strict Liability

Products Liability: A Primer, Part 1: Strict Liability

Products Liability: A Primer, Part 1: Strict Liability

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This is the first part of a primer on products liability law in Georgia, which protects consumers from dangerous, defective products. If you’ve been harmed by a defective product, H. Lehman Franklin, P.C. have attorney’s experience in product liability litigation to help you recover compensation from the party responsible. Georgia law takes the position that manufacturers are in the best position to discover dangerous product defects and correct them effectively and efficiently.

As a result, Georgia products liability law provides special theories of recovery for the injured, thus improving their chances of receiving an award of damages when injured by a dangerous or defective product. In Georgia, Plaintiffs may establish a claim based on legal theories of negligence and strict liability. They may also sue a product manufacturer based on the manufacturer’s duty to warn of nonobvious, foreseeable dangers arising from the normal use of the product.

Georgia has enacted a statute, O.C.G.A. § 51-1-11, to address the liability of manufacturers that cause an injury to person or property from a defective product. The public policy underlying the statute is to “ensure that the costs of injuries resulting from defective products are borne by the manufacturers that put such products on the market.” A manufacturer may not exclude or limit the operation by waiver or otherwise of the provisions of O.C.G.A. § 51-1-11.

O.C.G.A. §51-1-11 (b)(1) provides:

The manufacturer of any personal property sold as new property directly or through a dealer or any other person shall be liable in tort, irrespective of privity, to any natural person who may use, consume, or reasonably be affected by the property and who suffers injury to his person or property because the property when sold by the manufacturer was not merchantable and reasonably suited to the use intended, and its condition when sold is the proximate cause of the injury sustained.

In instances of a dangerous or defective products, a manufacturer is strictly liable and an injured plaintiff is not required to prove any degree of fault or breach of a duty, only that (1) the defendant was the manufacturer of the product; (2) the product was defective when it left the manufacturer’s control; and (3) the defective condition of the product proximately caused injury to the plaintiff.

Georgia courts strictly construe the strict liability statute to “actual manufacturers, which are those entities that have an active role in the production, design, or assembly of products and placing them in the stream of commerce.” Freeman v. United Cities Propane Gas of Ga., Inc., 807 F. Supp. 1533, 1539 (M.D. Ga. 1992).

In Georgia, law defines a party as a manufacturer if (1) the entity actually designs or manufactures the product, (2) the entity is a manufacturer of a component part that failed and caused injury to the plaintiff, or (3) the entity is an assembler of component parts who sells the assembled product as a single item under its own trade name.

Stay tuned for the continuation of this article where we’ll look at products liability law more detail and examine some important deadlines to remember if you ever have a cause of action based on an injury caused by a defective product.

Attorney Kim Ward and H. Lehman Franklin have been an important part of the Lehman Franklin, P.C. team since 2003. Along with a capable and dedicated support staff, they will give you the best representation possible in your legal matter. Their office is located at 127 North Main Street in Statesboro, GA (30458). We proudly serve Bulloch County, as well as the surrounding counties of Candler, Evans, Bryan, Chatham, Effingham, Screven, and Jenkins. Contact our personal injury attorneys by telephone at 912-764-9616, by email at info@hlfranklin.com, or check us out online. We’re available to meet your legal needs Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM until 5:30 PM.