Product Liability

When any product — a toy, a tool, an automobile — is launched into the market, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer, distributor and retailer to ensure that the product is safe for use. Unfortunately, not every product is safe, reliable or fit for the purpose it is purchased for, and can result in an accident causing serious personal injury. 

Under product liability, three categories of defects exist for which a manufacturer may be held liable:

Manufacturing – Manufacturing defects pertain to the production and manufacturing of the product. An example of a manufacturing defect could be that either a key part of a product was missed or an additional part was added on the assembly line, later posing risk of harm or injury to the consumer.

Flawed Design – Flawed design defects are those that arise in the design of the product. Most companies research and test prior to releasing a product to avoid design liabilities; however, if these tests are not completed properly or a step is missed, the company could then be held liable for any defects resulting in harm or injury.

Marketing Defects – Sometimes, harmful defects are a result of improper marketing rather than a direct result of the product itself. Examples of marketing defects include mistakes in labelling or improper/missing instructions and safety warnings.

Beyond the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure that their product is safely and accurately marketed and labelled, Health Canada also specifies guidelines for the legal responsibilities of retailers and others involved in product liability. Retailers, manufacturers, importers and distributors are also expected by the Industry Guide on Mandatory Reporting under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act to report any incidents involving a defect or characteristic that has resulted in, or has a reasonable potential to result in, injury, death or a significant adverse effect on a person’s health. All these parties are also obligated to report missing, incorrect or inadequate instructions or labels, and to not sell or distribute a product that’s unsafe. 

What compensation can I expect from a product liability?

As with most personal injury cases, the exact amount of compensation varies on a case by case basis. If you or a loved one have been injured by the use of a product or a car defect or recall, you may have a viable compensation claim for pecuniary losses — the financial costs of returning the victim to the state they were in before the injury occurred, and non-pecuniary losses — which refer to a loss of enjoyment in life.

Possible compensation entitlements include:

Cost of medical or rehabilitation treatments

Loss of earning capacity

Pain and suffering compensation