Product liability law is changing, undergoing what some call an evolution of product liability law on the international level. Product liability claims are becoming much more complex and are rapidly changing in the modern world. Some believe that the changes in product liability law do not reflect just an increase in dangers associated with products. Instead, they believe that increased litigation and issues related to product liability are due to changing cultural attitudes toward risk and a corresponding change with how consumers respond to alleged problems with product safety.
The Basics of the Evolution of Product Liability Law
Product liability law in the United States is not immune from this trend. Whether the changes began as cultural shifts or such shifts were responses to increased regulation, there have been some key changes the product liability law. Whether the changes began as cultural shifts or such shifts were responses to increased regulation, there have been some key changes demonstrated in the following areas.
Growing Importance of Regulatory Regimes
Manufacturers and suppliers need to stay up-to-date with an ever-changing regulatory landscape. This may prove even more challenging for multinational businesses attempting to familiarize themselves with local regimes. These sometimes broad changes often speak to the essentials of the way product safety issues are regulated. A proper approach to the defense of product liability claims requires a thorough understanding of the relevant regulatory regime along with any associated risks it brings.
Increase in Class Action Suits
Law in this area is still developing. U.S. cases sometimes indicate an inclination of the courts to expand the scope of liability for manufacturers in a way that may encourage mass claims. Some cases have found manufacturers to be liable even when actual problems with the product have not been proven. Indeed, some courts allowed cases about front-loader washing machines to proceed for a time as class actions even where a majority of purchasers had not experienced any problem with the product. There has also been an increase in enforcement powers for regulators and penalties for businesses, which is evidenced in the U.S. by ongoing changes to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.
Internationalization of Risk
Due to the globalization of our world, national authorities often look at developments in product liability law that are occurring in other countries for leads on product safety issues. The European Union launched an investigation into pelvic mesh in response to product litigation that is currently pending in the United States, specifically in West Virginia. Regulators in different countries also communicate with one another about product safety and quality issues.
The Impact of Social Media
The Internet and social media allow information to spread easily between consumers and stakeholders more quickly now than ever before. Businesses are at risk if they do not impose a clear and consistent approach in regard to managing product liability claims and safety issues such as recalls. Regulators are also taking advantage of the easy access to information allowed by social media. Some even monitor what companies say about themselves and their products.
WV Product Liability Lawyers Can Help You with Your Defense
If you are a manufacturer or supplier who is being sued in a product liability case, the product liability attorneys at Hendrickson & Long, PLLC are monitoring the evolution of product liability law and are qualified to take on your defense. We have successful experience defending a wide variety of product liability cases in West Virginia (WV). Contact us today to schedule a consultation in our Charleston office, or call us at 304-346-5500.