It’s reasonable for you to expect that, when you buy a product at the store, it will 1) work as intended and 2) not hurt you. When you bring home a product – whether it’s an appliance, computer, vape pen, or motorcycle, and it injures you instead of working as expected, the seller of that product (and the manufacturer in some cases) is strictly liable for the damages that it caused.
What does strict liability for defective products mean? What do you have to prove to recover damages from a business that sold a harmful defective product to you? What if you are hurt by a defective product that you didn’t buy? Can you still sue the seller of the product?
If you have been hurt by a defective product, call the Myrtle Beach product liability attorneys at Coastal Law now to find out if you have a lawsuit and what your next steps are. Don’t delay, because it is critical that your attorney get involved as soon as possible to secure the evidence that you will need to prove your case and to get the right experts on board.
SC has Strict Liability for Defective Products
SC has established strict liability for defective products by statute. SC Code Section 15-73-10 states that a person or business who sells a defective product is responsible for any harm caused by the product:
(1) One who sells any product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer or to his property is subject to liability for physical harm caused to the ultimate user or consumer, or to his property, if
(a) The seller is engaged in the business of selling such a product, and
(b) It is expected to and does reach the user or consumer without substantial change in the condition in which it is sold.
It doesn’t matter if the seller was careful and reasonable in preparing and selling their product, and it doesn’t matter if the injured person was the person who bought the product – the seller of the defective product that hurts someone is still liable:
(2) The rule stated in subsection (1) shall apply although
(a) The seller has exercised all possible care in the preparation and sale of his product, and
(b) The user or consumer has not bought the product from or entered into any contractual relation with the seller.
What Does Strict Liability Mean?
Strict liability for defective products means that the seller of the defective product is liable regardless of whether they were negligent – there is no requirement of fault or criminal intent for a seller to be held liable for a defective product in SC.
What are the Different Types of Product Liability?
There are three basic types of product liability:
- Design defects: When the design of a product is dangerous and tends to cause injury, the seller of that product is strictly liable for the damage caused;
- Manufacturing defects: A product may be designed well, but the defect arises during manufacturing; although the seller did not necessarily manufacture the product, they will still be liable under SC’s strict liability for defective products;
- Marketing defects: This includes a failure to warn about the product’s dangers or a defect in the instructions that accompany the product – manufacturers must provide clear instructions and adequate warnings to help the consumer avoid injuries.
Are There Other Types of Strict Liability in SC?
I had a law school professor who said that strict liability was “when the tiger gets loose…” If you have a dangerous condition like, say, keeping a tiger in your home, you are strictly liable for the consequences if the tiger gets loose.
Ownership of wild animals is one example of strict liability in SC – others include abnormally dangerous activities like blasting or working with nuclear material, or when your livestock gets onto someone else’s land.
How Do I Prove a Product Was Defective?
Often, it will require expert testimony to prove 1) that a product was defective and 2) that the defective product was the proximate cause of your injuries.
You need to prove who sold the product (or who manufactured the product), which can be done through testimony, receipts, or bank records. You need to prove that the product was defective (which often requires an expert witness). You also need to prove that the defective product was the proximate cause of the injuries.
Proximate cause means that, but for the use of the defective product, you would not have been injured – the product’s defect was the direct cause of the injury or damage:
A products liability plaintiff must prove the product defect was the proximate cause of the injury sustained. Small v. Pioneer Machinery, Inc., 329 S.C. 448, 494 S.E.2d 835 (Ct. App. 1997) (citing Livingston v. Noland Corp., 293 S.C. 521, 362 S.E.2d 16 (1987) (proof must be sufficient to show defect was direct and efficient cause of plaintiff’s injury)). Proximate cause requires proof of both causation in fact and legal cause, which is proved by establishing foreseeability. Id.
We may also need to prove that you did not discover the defect and that you were unaware of the danger. If you know about the product defect and use the product anyway, you may be barred from recovery. SC Code Section 15-73-20 says:
If the user or consumer discovers the defect and is aware of the danger, and nevertheless proceeds unreasonably to make use of the product and is injured by it, he is barred from recovery.
What are Common Types of Defective Products?
Strict liability for defective products in SC can apply to any type of consumer goods, including:
- Motorcycle or automobile parts;
- Electronics like computers, tablets, or cellphones;
- Vape pens;
- Tools, including power tools and saws; or
- Heavy equipment.
Who Do I Sue for a Defective Product in SC?
You may have a lawsuit against the store (or individual) who sold the product (whether it was to you, a friend, or your employer), against the manufacturer of the product, the distributor of the product, or other third parties depending on the facts of your case.
SC Products Liability Lawyers in Myrtle Beach
If you have been hurt because of any type of product defect, including failures to warn of danger or faulty instructions, the Myrtle Beach product liability attorneys at Coastal Law will help you to determine whether you have a lawsuit and what experts you will need to help prove your case.
Schedule a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case by calling (843) 488-5000 or filling out our online form.