The Indiana Product Liability Act, substantially amended in 1998, was intended to limit tort claims brought by consumers injured by defective products. Under the current law, there is a rebuttable presumption that a product is not defective if the manufacturer conformed to recognized “state of the art” safety guidelines or complied with government standards. This means that the manufacturer of a product approved by the FDA or FAA, for example, can introduce evidence that it followed all of the rules necessary to gain approval for use. In this instance, the manufacturer might not be liable for damages even if there was a direct causal link between the product and the harm to the consumer.
There are five threshold requirements needed to be a plaintiff in a product liability claim. Each is required separately.
- A user or consumer of the product was reasonably foreseeable by the manufacturer as someone who might be harmed by its use.
- The defendant is a manufacturer or seller of the product.
- Physical harm was caused by the product.
- The product was in a defective condition that was unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer.
- The product reached the user or consumer without any substantial alteration in its condition.
Notice that actual physical harm is required. Courts have defined “physical harm” to mean bodily injury, death, loss of services, and rights arising from such injuries, as well as sudden, major damage to property. Physical harm does not include any gradually evolving damage to property or economic losses from such damage.
“Defective condition” can be established by showing one or a combination of three claims.
- Defect in design
- Lack of adequate or appropriate warnings
- Defect as a result of malfunction or impurity in the manufacturing process
Only experienced products liability attorneys can assess the validity of your claim under Indiana law. Be sure to seek counsel immediately in the event of harm or damage.