Skip to content

How Product Liability Cases Work

A product liability case happens when a company puts out a defective or dangerous product that causes harm to customers even when they’re using the product correctly. The way the case will be handled will be determined by whether there was a contract involved in the sale or not. If there was no contract, certain consumer protection statutes would apply instead. 


There are four parties who might be held responsible in a product liability claim. The first is the manufacturer, but the importer, the distributor, or the supplier may all be held accountable as well. 


What a Plaintiff Must Prove


To make your claim you’ll have to prove several things.


  1. The defendant was negligent in the creation or distribution of this product.
  2. The product injured you and you suffered loss as a result of that injury.
  3. The injury would not have happened but for the negligence.


This can be harder than it sounds. For example, the manufacturer will be anxious to prove that you acted negligently in some way. That you used the product incorrectly and thus caused your own injury. That you ignored some warning that existed on the packaging. That you altered the product in some way and so your injuries were your fault. 


What else will the defendant do?


Defendants will try to show that they met a reasonable standard of care. For example, they may provide proof that they were in compliance with regulations guiding their industry, thus proving they could not have been expected to find or know about the defect. 


For example, if you’re suing a retail store for selling you a faulty skateboard, they can show that they required the manufacturer to provide proof that quality inspections were performed. Since the retailer can’t exactly get on-site to check every skateboard, it’s unreasonable to hold them accountable for stocking it. They did the most reasonable due diligence they could do.


How to Help Your Case


Save the defective product and the packaging it came with, along with any instructions or warranties that came with it. Too often, people throw the evidence away, never realizing that it’s the most important part of their case.


Bringing the defective item in can show that you didn’t alter it in any way. Bringing the original instructions can help us demonstrate a lack of warning. If you rely on the manufacturer’s current instructions you may find they cleverly updated them shortly after you filed your claim, and that long before your day in court happens those become the only instructions that are available anywhere.


It can be a pain to save instructions and manuals for every product you have, but it’s never a bad idea. Designate a folder in your filing cabinet for that sort of documentation so that you never have to do without. 


What will a product liability claim pay?


A product liability claim will pay what any other personal injury case pays. It will provide help with your medical bills, lost wages, and expenses associated with the injury. You may also be eligible for punitive damages and for a pain and suffering award. These awards are capped in Alberta, but they’re capped at well over $300,000.


If you think you might have a case, don’t hesitate to call us. We’ll evaluate the strength of your claim and help you decide on next steps.

About Donald I.M. Outerbridge

Donald became the Executive Director of Merchant Law Group LLP starting in 1993, nearly 30 years ago. His experience managing law firms at various levels and in multiple provinces across Canada goes back even further to 1981.

Please note: The information provided on this website is Not Legal Advice. The information may or may not be accurate. The information is for discussion purposes only. Reliance upon any information provided would not be grounds to advance a claim against Merchant Law for providing any advice. In order to get a formal legal opinion upon which you may rely about any specific fact scenario, you would have to first retain the services of a lawyer and request a formal legal opinion.