Product liability in Tennessee: The basics.

Product liability claims can allow victims an opportunity to hold sellers and manufacturers liable for injuries that result from a defective product.

Product liability is an area of law that allows consumers to hold manufacturers and sellers responsible when a defective product causes injury. There are three basic defects that can result in liability: design, manufacturing and marketing. Design defects are those that result in an inherently unsafe product, manufacturing defects refer to errors during the assembly of the product that lead to injury and marketing defects include improper labeling or inadequate safety warnings.

Product liability is a creature of state law. This means that any case brought against a product manufacturer or seller will need to follow applicable state laws. These laws can vary from state to state.

Tennessee state law and product liability

Tennessee state law does not allow for a claim against a seller when it was not reasonable for the seller to know of the defect. Examples could include a product that was in a sealed container or otherwise in a state that would render it difficult to inspect by the seller.

In order to hold a seller liable the injured party must generally establish that the seller failed to exercise reasonable care when selling the product.

It is also important to note that product liability cases can involve more than one responsible party. In addition to the seller and the manufacturer of the product, manufacturers of individual components could also bear some responsibility. The business used to assemble the product as well as any wholesalers used during distribution are also potential parties to a lawsuit.

Examples of product liability cases

The best way to elaborate on the complexity of these cases is to provide an example. One that has received attention throughout the country involves the recent airbag recall. These airbags contain a defect that results in a violent explosion of metal debris that can result in serious injury and death to the driver and passengers in the vehicle. The case is difficult as it involves many parties and vast amounts of evidence. Allegations of liability include car manufacturers Ford, BMW, Honda, Subaru and Toyota as well as the company responsible for the airbag itself, Takata.

This example involves large businesses, but smaller businesses can also be responsible for faulty products.

Logistics of product liability lawsuits

It is important to structure a product liability claim wisely. Businesses and insurance companies will mount a defense to these allegations. Defenses can include a claim that the victim altered the product and this alteration led to the injury. If successful, such a defense could negate the manufacturer or seller’s liability.

As such, it is wise for victims who are seriously injured by a product to seek legal counsel. An experienced personal injury litigator can review the details of your accident and build a case that better ensures your interests are protected.


Ogle, Rowell & Penland, P.C.

Ogle, Rowell & Penland, P.C.