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16

Strict Products Liability: Basic Theories of Recovery

INTRODUCTION

The term products liability refers to claims for injuries caused by commercial products. Examples of such cases abound: A plaintiff is injured by a snowblower that lacks an adequate blade guard; a user of a prescription medication suffers an adverse side effect; a passenger in a car is injured when the brakes unaccountably fail; a child is caught under an electric garage door. This chapter addresses the basic theories of recovery available to such plaintiffs, with an emphasis on the cause of action for “strict products liability.”

BACKGROUND: PRODUCTS LIABILITY THEORIES OTHER THAN STRICT LIABILITY

The recognition of “strict liability” for injuries due to defective products was one of the most dramatic developments of twentieth-century tort law. But why did it happen? Why weren't negligence law and other traditional remedies deemed adequate to remedy this class of tort claims?

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