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LEGAL FACT SHEET

Product Liability Lawyer

If you need help with a defective product case, please contact our Product Defect Lawyers.

 

Product Liability LawyerThe consumer safety law in Indiana is a strict liability law, as it pertains to manufacturers of the entire product, or part of the product.  Thus, sellers are not held strictly liable “unless the seller is a manufacturer of the product or of the part of the product alleged to be defective.” IC 34-20-2-3   The theory of strict liability is based on the Restatement of Torts, 2d, Section 402(A).  However,

[i]f a court is unable to hold jurisdiction over a particular manufacturer of a product or part of a product alleged to be defective, then that manufacturer’s principal distributor or seller over whom a court may hold jurisdiction shall be considered, for the purposes of this chapter, the manufacturer of the product.

IC 34-20-2-4.  Therefore, where the manufacturer cannot be brought into court under the doctrine of strict liability, the seller may be sued in his place.  Thus, the supplier of a product is liable, in a strict liability sense, for that product only when the manufacturer cannot be sued within Indiana.

Otherwise,

a person who sells, leases, or otherwise puts into the stream of commerce any product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to any user or consumer or to the user’s or consumer’s property is subject to liability for physical harm caused by that product to the user or consumer or to the user’s or consumer’s property if:

  1. that user or consumer is in the class of persons that the seller should reasonably foresee as being subject to the harm caused by the defective condition;
  2. the seller is engaged in the business of selling the product; and
  3. the product is expected to and does reach the user or consumer without substantial alteration in the condition in which the product is sold by the person sought to be held liable under this article.

IC 34-20-2-1.  The term ‘class of persons’ can refer to people who are not the buyer, but are people whom the seller should foresee would use the product.  For the purposes of this act, the term ‘intended use’ includes any reasonably foreseeable use, or misuse, of a product.

The law of strict product liability applies to all people who engage in the manufacturing of the product, and extends to the providing of all necessary warnings and instructions necessary to inform the consumer of the possible risks and inherent limitations of the product.  The absence of such warnings or instructions may be considered a defect, in addition to manufacturing defects.  However, liability in Indiana only extends to those who have a part in the manufacturing of the component that created the defect and causes the injury.

In a product liability action where liability is assessed against more than one (1) defendant, a defendant is not liable for more than the amount of fault, as determined under IC 34-20-8, directly attributable to that defendant. A defendant in a product liability action may not be held jointly liable for damages attributable to the fault of another defendant.

IC 34-20-7-1.  Therefore, if three manufacturers take part in the manufacturing process, only those manufacturers which take part in manufacturing the component causing the injury are held liable for the injury.  Thus, if two manufacturers create the injury causing defect, the third manufacturer is not liable for the injury.  It is important to note that strict liability can only be assessed for personal injury or property damage.  However, a suit based upon strict liability cannot be brought for damages to the defective product itself.

The law of strict product liability concentrates on the safety of the product, without concern for the actions of the supplier.  The reasonableness of the supplier’s conduct  is not at issue, just whether the nature of the defective and whether the defect caused the injury.  Thus, the supplier may be liable for harm caused by its defective product even where it has exercised all possible care in the preparation and sale of its product.

There are few defenses to strict liability suits.  One defense to strict liability is assumption of the risk, where the manufacturer can show that the consumer voluntarily used the product even though being aware of the defect and having an appreciation of the danger posed by the defect.  Another defense is the substantial alteration of the product, after leaving the control of the manufacturer, which created the defective condition.  Note that this defense is not available where:

  1. the alteration was reasonably foreseeable by the manufacturer; or
  2. the injury would have been sustained even if the alteration had not occurred.

Other factors, such as industry custom and standards or compliance with government regulations are not relevant in a suit based upon strict liability.   In addition, the negligence or conduct of the injured person are inadmissible in a claim based on strict product liability.

In Indiana, the statute of limitations requires that actions based upon product liability:

. . . must be commenced:

  1. within two (2) years after the cause of action accrues; or
  2. within ten (10) years after the delivery of the product to the initial user or consumer.

However, if the cause of action accrues at least eight (8) years but less than ten (10) years after that initial delivery, the action may be commenced at any time within two (2) years after the cause of action accrues.

IC 34-20-3-1(b)(1)-(2).  There are exceptions to this rule based upon actions formed due to asbestos exposure.  If you feel that you have been injured by a defective product, please talk with an attorney and make sure to preserve your rights within the time limits of such actions.

If you need help with a defective product case, please contact our Product Defect Lawyers.

2124 East Hanna Ave, Indianapolis, Indiana 46227-3314
(800) 486-4450, (317) 780-6610
Fax: (317) 780-6620
“Over 50 Years of Combined Trial & Settlement Experience” – Licensed Nurses, Medical Doctors, Scientists & Engineers Assist In Helping To Win Your Case
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