Tort Liability



Tort means harm or injury for which a court will provide a remedy in the form of damages. Liability means being responsible for something. There are different theories of liability and potential defenses in accordance with the law of torts. Some of these theories include caveat emptor, strict liability, product liability, and consumer protections. Because these theories impact consumer and business transactions, it is crucial to understand the elements of these different legal theories, the circumstances under which each theory applies, and the individuals each theory protects.

At A Glance

  • Caveat emptor is Latin for "let the buyer beware." It means the buyer bears the risk of purchasing goods unless there is an exception.
  • Strict liability requires only that a person or entity did the action. There is no need to prove fault or intent. There is liability if the act is committed.
  • Product liability is the legal responsibility a manufacturer incurs for producing or selling a faulty product.
  • Purchasers, users, bystanders, and property owners can bring product liability claims.
  • The three types of product defects are design defect, manufacturing defect, and marketing defect.
  • Consumer protection under common law is problematic because it requires privity of contract, which is often difficult to satisfy.
  • Appropriate defenses to a product liability lawsuit include improper use of the product by a consumer, alteration of the product, and improper conduct by the injured party.