Product liability refers to the legal responsibility of the manufacturer or distributor of a defective product. Food poisoning occurs when a person eats contaminated or tainted food. It is estimated that 43 million cases of food poisoning occur every year in the United States. This means that defective food products are commonly sold to consumers who are ignorant of the condition of the product that they are consuming. Food products get contaminated due to the negligence and careless handling by the food manufacturers or its distributors. Food manufacturers and distributors should be liable for monetary damages when food poisoning occurs, because it is the legal responsibility of food manufacturers and distributors to properly prepare, process, store their products.
Product Liability Insurance
Distributors can be found liable for food poisoning as a result of sale of defective food products to consumers. According to the Product liability law, a plaintiff only has to prove that your product was defective (strict liability) and not that you were negligent to make your business liable for compensation. Defectiveness can mean that the product was manufactured or designed incorrectly or instructions were unclear to the user. Your business should therefore get an insurance cover for product liability.
Strict liability means liability without fault, therefore the distributor is liable whether or not he was negligent or had a fault. Strict liability is usually imposed on manufactured products including food products under the product liability law. Strict liability claims do not involve proof of whether or not someone acted reasonably in regards to the manufactured product. Your business will compensate an injured consumer by paying money if your business has been found liable for supplying defective food products to consumers. Most businesses usually have liability insurance that covers such expenses. If your business lacks such insurance covers then you will have to pay for these damages out of your business income.
Ensuring standards of the food products
You can prevent liability of your business for a defective product by ensuring that the food manufacturers uphold standards that produce quality food products. You can visit their manufacturing plants to inspect if they using the appropriate food handling techniques. In your contracts with suppliers ensure you indemnify your business for defective food products claims that result from their negligence.
Types of Product defects
With any product liability claim whether its strict liability or negligence, the plaintiff has to prove that the product was defective. These are the three main types of defects that can be present in a product.
- Design Defects- These are defects that were present during the designing of the product. The defect was there before the product was manufactured and, distributed or used.
- Manufacturing Defects- These defects occur during the making of the product.
- Marketing defects-These defects involve the manner in which the product was marketed to the public. Includes improper labeling, insufficient safety warnings or inadequate and unclear instructions.
Distributors of food products should ensure that their products meet the food and drug administration standards and are not defective in terms of labelling and instructions before they sell those products to consumers.