Product Liability & Insurance for Small Business Owners
If you’re a small business owner, there’s nothing better than hearing that your customers are happy with a product you manufacture or sell. You want to hear stories about how something you sold or made helped solve a problem, how a product lasted for years, or how a product simply made a person happy. The last thing you ever want to hear is that someone was seriously hurt because of something they purchased from you.
But the simple fact of the matter is that not every purchase ends up being a happy one. Every year, far too many people are hurt or even killed by defective products. Whether you manufacture a product or you’re a retailer who sells products, there’s a possibility someone could be hurt or killed by something you sell, so it’s important to have an understanding of what product liability laws mean for your business.
Product liability law heavily relies on a principle known as strict liability. Under strict liability, if a product is defective and causes injury, the product’s manufacturer, seller, or other party in the distribution chain can be held liable. While other types of personal injury cases involve proving negligence, strict product liability makes the case about the product itself, not the actions of the manufacturer or party that sold it. For example, even if a manufacturer takes all the appropriate steps to produce safe products in the first place, if a faulty product still makes its way through and someone gets hurt, the manufacturer could still be held responsible. However, strict liability does not necessarily mean that a manufacturer/retailer is automatically liable for injuries caused by a product.
As a business owner, it’s very important to do everything you can to prevent unsafe products from being sold in the first place. If you’re a manufacturer, this means taking steps like conducting lots of product testing, providing instructions that clearly describe how to use a product safely, and providing adequate warnings of any dangers a product might have. For a retailer, this means routinely checking for recall notices and immediately removing recalled products from your shelves. Even if you own a resale shop, whether it’s a brick-and-mortar store or online, it’s still important to do check for recalls because it’s illegal to knowingly sell (or give away) a recalled product. But what else can you do to protect your customers and your business?
General Liability Insurance is one of the most important things you can have for your business. Not only will this help protect you in a wide variety of circumstances, it also helps cover the expenses if a customer is injured, whether they’re hurt on your property or by one of your products. It’s also a good idea to consult a product liability lawyer to get more information on what you can do to keep your customers safe. Product liability cases can be complex, so getting some guidance from a lawyer who really understands the law can go a long way in protecting both your customers and your business.