Business Law and Product Liability
In the past years, product liability laws have been brought into the spotlight as never before. Newspapers and magazines have featured headline stories about "huge" product liability awards resulting from such things as spilled coffee and bad car paint jobs. In addition, there have been fierce battles for "reform" of products liability law in the United States Congress, and numerous state legislatures have attempted to rewrite common law by enacting statutory limitations on products liability. At the same time, products liability laws are continuing to be developed outside the United States many countries in Europe, as well as Japan now have products liability laws.
Product liability law has evolved from two bodies of law: contracts and torts. Contract law provides the rules for ascertaining the legal responsibilities of parties to formal agreements, including contracts for the sale of goods. Tort law provides the rules for determining whether a person has acted negligently towards someone to whom he owes a duty of case, independent of any contract, and whether that negligence caused injury or property damage to others.
Personal injury law includes the recovery of compensation in relation to injuries and medical conditions in a broad range of compensable situations. Personal injury law is divided, broadly speaking, into common law (and "modified" common law schemes) and statutory schemes, such as Workers Compensation and Victims Compensation.
Early in America's history, a person injured by a defective product could not sue the manufacturer of the product because U.S. courts did not recognize the existence of any legal relationship between a manufacturer and a product user. U.S. courts followed the English rule established in Winterbottom v. Wright, a case in which the driver of a stage coach was injured in a accident allegedly caused by the negligence of...