Product Purchase and Liability - Classification of Torts and their Defenses

American's, everyday purchase products that they feel are beneficial to their development. When the consumer purchases a product, they are liable for whatever mishaps may occur and accidents that may happen. This is usually done with a warning label attached to the product, or is found via flyer form in the instruction manual. There are many reasons for the cause of injury, but most cases of injury are due to product defects. These defects are manufacturing, design, and failure to adequately warn. There are three broad classifications of torts and we will examine all three and their defenses.

Intentional Torts
Strict Liability

The classification of a particular tort depends largely on how the tort occurs (intentionally or unintentionally) and the circumstances surrounding it. Intentional Torts means with "intent ". “Intent” does not necessarily mean that the tortfeasor intended to harm someone; rather, it means that the tortfeasor intended the consequences of his or her act or knew with substantial certainty that certain consequences would result from the act. One example, of an intentional tort is the Assault and Battery against a person. Defenses to assault and battery include:

Defense of others
Defense of property

Negligence Tort occurs when someone suffers injury because of another’s failure to live up to a required duty of care. Defendants often defend against negligence by asserting that the plaintiff failed to prove the existence of one or more of the required elements for negligence.

The A, B, C, D's of Negligence: The elements of proving negligence (with examples)

A Defendant has a duty of care to the plaintiff: (To keep the grocery store safe)
Breached that duty: (By leaving a banana peel on the floor for two hours).
Cause: the breach must cause the injury. (Plaintiff slipped on the banana peel)
Damages: (Injury or harm)

Additionally, there are three basic defenses in negligence cases: (1) assumption of risk A plaintiff who voluntarily enters into a risk situation. (2) Superseding cause, and (3) Contributory and comparative negligence.

The assumption of risk is when the plaintiff voluntarily enters into a risky situation, knowing the risk involved. The plaintiff will not be allowed to recover. An Example: I know for a fact that your car has bad breaks, and I ask you to borrow it anyway and have an accident.

Superseding Cause is an unforeseeable intervening event that breaks the connection between a wrongful act and an injury to another. An Example: Suppose a defendant negligently blocks a road causing the plaintiff to make a detour in her automobile. While on the detour, an airplane hits the plaintiff's car, killing the plaintiff. The airplane was completely unforeseeable to the defendant, and thus he cannot be held liable for the plaintiff's death. The airplane was a superseding cause of the plaintiff's death.

Contributory Negligence is "the conduct on the part of the plaintiff which falls below the standard to which he should conform for his own protection, and which is a legally contributing cause co-operating with the negligence of the defendant." Under the contributory rule. For Example if an accident victim's failure to exercise due care which contributes even in the slightest way to plaintiff injuries is an absolute bar to recovery. , Even if the jury believes the plaintiff was only 1% at fault for their injuries, they would be completely barred from a recovery.

Comparative Negligence, is when both the accident victim and the defendant contributed to a loss by failing to exercise the required degree of care, fault is relatively apportioned by the accident victim and the defendant(s). Accordingly, the damages awarded to the accident victim are decreased in direct proportion to their own negligence. For Example, if the jury found that an accident victim's damages were worth $500,000 but felt that the plaintiff was 20% at fault for the accident, the jury award would be effectively $400,000.

A Example of negligence are wrongful death and professional liability (malpractice) . Example: Let's say you come into the hospital with a burst appendix and rather than treating you, your doctor decides to take a four hour lunch break. Strict Liability Is the sale or lease of any product which, if defective, may be expected to cause physical harm to the consumer or user. The purpose of strict liability is to assure that the costs of injuries resulting from defective products are borne by those who manufacture and market such products. Strict liability torts are not concerned with the degree of caution exercised, rather it revolves around the causative action itself. For instance (example), if a dog bites the person, strict liability torts does not consider the fact the owner had exercised due caution by chaining the dog and that the dog has broken the chain. Only the fact of the bite -- the damage caused is relevant. The defenses for Strict Liability case are: The defendant must show that (1) the plaintiff knew and appreciated the risk created by the alleged product defect, and (2) the plaintiff voluntarily assumed the risk, even though it was unreasonable to do so. The defendant must show that (A) the plaintiff was using the product in some way for which it was not designed, and (B) the plaintiff's misuse was not reasonably foreseeable to the defendant, such that the defendant would be required to safeguard against it. For example, I purposefully stand on a trash can to change a light bulb, it caves in, and I am injured.

The defendant must show that the plaintiff's injury resulted from a danger so commonly known by the general public that the defendant had no duty to warn plaintiff. For example, using a knife. If a particular danger is or should be commonly known by particular users of the product, the manufacturer need not warn those particular users. For example, an electrician using commonly used electric connectors and related materials. There are 3 t ypes of strict liability cases:
Keeping wild animals
Dangerous, legal activities such as blasting roads and
The manufacture of products (products liability)

Strict liability torts must prove that (A) a product or activity is potentially harmful,(B) that despite reasonable care, the use of the product carries a high element of risk and (C ) that the activity is not performed in the course of normal events.