Product Liability Or Negligence?

Sometimes people confuse product liability and negligence. What do product liability and negligence mean, how are they proven, and how hard are they to prove?

Product Liability

In a product liability case a plaintiff must prove that they were injured as a result of a defect in a product and that the product was defective when it left the manufacturer.  To prove that liability the plaintiff must prove:

  1. The plaintiff must prove that they are suing the company that made the defective product.
  2. That the product was not only defective when the plaintiff purchased it, but the defect existed when the manufacturer sold it and was not caused by the place of purchase.
  3. The plaintiff must prove that their injury was caused by the defective product.
  4. The business that created the product could have reasonably foreseen the injury created by the product.
  5. If the business that created the product knew about the defect when the defective product was being sold, and the plaintiff could prove knowledge then they can receive more compensation for their case.


To prove negligence you must prove product liability and, in addition, you must prove that injury could have been reasonably prevented by the defendant (for example, the business that created the product). This added step makes it more difficult to prove than product liability. Negligence can be an action or an omission to act. To obtain optimal compensation review these four components of negligence:

  1. The defendant had a duty to exercise reasonable care to the injured party. Duty of care can be easy or difficult to prove depending on the circumstances of the case.
  2. The defendant breached the duty of care to the injured party. In other words, they failed to exercise reasonable care. In order to prove this, the plaintiff has to prove the defendant was aware of the reasonable likelihood of causing real harm based on their actions.
  3. The defendant's breach (failure to exercise reasonable care) caused the plaintiffs alleged injury. There must be a proximate cause. The plaintiff must show that it was in the scope of liability. Medical malpractice is one of the more difficult forms of negligence to prove.
  4. The plaintiff was physically injured or harmed in the form of actual damages.


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