Product liability is an area of the law that addresses injuries resulting from a defective or
dangerous product. If you’re injured by a product that is deemed “unreasonably” dangerous, you
can file a lawsuit for damages. With a product defect case, you may be able to bring an action
against anyone involved in the product chain — the company who manufactured it, the
wholesaler, and the retail sellers.
Theories of Product Liability Claims
For defective products, there are several different theories that can apply:
● Manufacturing defects — The defect occurred during the manufacturing process
● Design defects — There was a mistake during the design process that rendered the
product dangerous when used as intended
● Marketing defects — Labels or warnings that are inadequate, or erroneous instructions
Legal Theories in Product Liability Cases
Product liability claims can fall under several categories, like a breach of warranty, strict liability or
● Breach of warranty — Breach of warranty can be on a warranty that is either express
or implied. Under express warranty, the plaintiff is required to demonstrate the actual
written warranty was violated. With implied warranty, the plaintiff must demonstrate the
product’s defect rendered it unfit, even if there is no actual express warranty or the
alleged defect is not covered by an express warranty.
● Strict liability — Plaintiff only has to establish the product was defective and he or she
doesn’t need to show any fault of the parties in the distribution chain.
● Negligence — The parties who put the item into the commerce stream were obligated to
provide goods that were fit for their intended uses. And, if they had not been negligent,
and had taken proper precaution in the manufacturing, design, or inspection process, the
product would not have been defective.
It’s important to point out how negligence-based product liability claims differ from breach of
warranty and strict liability ones. In a product liability case that hinges on negligence, the judge
or jury will look at the defendant’s conduct rather than if they were responsible for selling a defective product.
South Carolina is a modified comparative negligence state. That means with a negligence-based claim, comparative negligence applies. The jury will apportion negligence between the parties in the case. Modified comparative means a plaintiff who is found to be more than 50 percent at fault cannot collect for any damages. If a jury finds the plaintiff 40 percent at fault,
they can still collect 60 percent of their damages in a product liability case.
In addition to the three categories of product defect categories discussed above, there are two
more categories to pay attention to. One of these is proper labeling. The Consumer Product
Safety Commission (CPSC) has set forth guidelines and rules on different types of labels. For
example, warnings must be prominently displayed on children’s toys and games. The other
category deals with misrepresentation. Companies are obligated to accurately represent their
products, no matter whether they are the manufacturer, advertiser, or seller. In some situations,
the misrepresentation was negligent while others were intentional.
Retaining a Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve suffered injuries due to a defective product, you need to retain a skilled South Carolina
personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Product liability cases are typically complex, and
an attorney who understands the process can ensure all necessary parties are added to the
lawsuit. The attorneys at Elrod Pope Law Firm have years of experience handling personal
injury matters. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.