Every year in the United States, 34 million people are injured or die from accidents involving defective products. Thankfully, as a consumer in California, you are protected against defective products under product liability law.

Product liability is the area of law in which manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, retailers, and others who make products available to the public are held responsible for the injuries those products cause. Yes, each of these have a responsibility to ensure that their products, when used as intended, will do no harm. When a company fails in this responsibility, resulting in an injury or fatality, the injured person or surviving family members may claim compensation for both economic and non-economic damages.

Pursuing a product liability action with the assistance of experienced and trusted personal injury attorneys, like those at John M. O'Brien & Associates, can greatly aid in the success of such claims.

Types of Product Defects

Product defects typically fall into three categories:

  • Design defects
  • Manufacturing or assembly defects
  • Marketing or "failure to warn" defects

Strict Liability for Defective Products

Product liability graphic

"Strict liability" is a legal rule that governs most defective product actions. It's a part of product liability law that puts responsibility on the company behind the product even if the company shows proof that they attempted to prevent a defect from happening. What does this mean for the injured victim? This means that if you have suffered damages from using a particular product, you do not have to prove that the manufacturer was negligent - only that you were injured while using the product for its stated purpose.

It is important to provide the evidence that proves the product (that caused the injury or fatality):

  • Was unaltered from its original condition,
  • It contained a defect,
  • That the defect was the immediate cause of the injury or death, and
  • That the victim and/or surviving family members suffered damages as a result.

Although it may seem simple, just because an injured person is required to prove less in a strict product liability action, it does not mean a defendant's liability is automatic. Product liability actions can quickly become more complex and complicated.

At times, product liability actions are based on other legal theories. These may include any of the following:

  • Negligence,
  • Breach of express warranties (violation of a written warranty), and
  • Breach of implied warranties (where the product does not comply with minimum expected standards)

Speaking with our personal injury lawyer based in Sacramento & Elk Grove will help you understand the differences in these theories.

Potential Damages You May Be Able to Recover in a Product Liability Action

You may be entitled to recover three types of damages: economic, intangible, and punitive.

  • Economic damages, which are medical bills, lost earnings, and other expenses that can be documented by producing bills, receipts, and employment records;
  • Intangible damages, which are non-economic damages related to your quality of life. These include pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disability, loss of independence, emotional anguish, and others which cannot be quantified in dollars and cents;
  • Punitive damages, which are those designed to punish the company that produced the product when the defect was the result of egregious wrongdoing or blatant disregard for the life, health, or wellbeing of the consumer.

An experienced Sacramento product liability attorney will gather evidence to support your claim, including records to document your economic damages, and will bring in experts when necessary to document your non-economic damages. When appropriate, your lawyer will make a case for an additional award of punitive damages as a deterrent against future occurrences.

Free Product Liability Case Consultation

To learn whether you have a valid claim for damages after being injured by a defective product in California, call the Sacramento area law firm of personal injury attorney John M. O'Brien. With 25 years of experience in successfully obtaining justice for the injured, a practice dedicated exclusively to personal injury law, and the highest possible ratings from Martindale-Hubbell and Avvo, we provide our clients with a level of excellence that is hard to beat. We are a client-focused law firm where your needs come first. The initial consultation is free and without obligation. We take product liability cases on contingency, so you don't pay us anything - ever - unless we win money for you. Legal time restrictions limit the time in which you can file your claim. Call today to protect your right to a recovery before legal deadlines expire.



In February 2016, Sacramento & Elk Grove-based John M. O'Brien & Associates tried a case against a general contractor who installed a cement median on a busy city street in a commercial district without installing the required reflectors or … Read more

$4.5 million

Sacramento & Elk Grove-based attorney John O'Brien obtained a $4.5 million settlement in a complex, medical product liability case.

$1.45 million

Plaintiff was a 21-year-old male who was severely injured on a towable inflatable on the San Joaquin Delta near Tower Park Marina in Lodi, California. He was being towed by a family friend operating a personal water craft. It was a windy day a… Read more


Our client was injured at a shooting range in Escalon, California. He was walking away from the shooting area when the person next to him fired a Weatherby rifle at a target downrange. The rifle exploded and shrapnel caused a retinal injury to our c… Read more


Sacramento & Elk Grove-based personal injury lawyer John M. O'Brien obtained a $600K settlement for a plasterer who fractured his low back after falling from a defective plank used for scaffolding.


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Common Questions

A manufacturer, distributor or retailer can be held liable for a failure to provide adequate warnings on a product, if you, as a consumer, suffer an injury as a result. In…

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Product liability is a legal term involving the responsibility of manufacturers, sellers or distributors for injuries caused by a defective product. Victims can receive compensat…

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The manufacturer, the supplier, or the seller is strictly liable when an article he places on the market to be u…

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Damages are awarded to make restitution to you for the wrongs that a defective product has caused. In a defective produ…

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The best thing to do is to contact an experienced product liability lawyer, who will determine whether you have a case or not…

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You are under no duty to inspect the product; however, when you are injured due to a misuse of a def…

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