The well-known aircraft manufacturer Boeing has faced quite a few challenges this year. For months, reports of crashes, whistleblowers and claims of defective products have filled the news.
These stories are only increasing the public’s apprehension as well as the FAA’s aggressive investigation tactics into aircraft manufacturing. So, what should manufacturers know if they are faced with these challenges and product liability claims?
Manufacturers generally have strict liability
In most product liability cases, manufacturers have strict liability. This generally means that it is a manufacturer’s duty to:
- Make sure their products are safe to use;
- Address and resolve problems in the manufacturing process; and
- Comply with federal safety regulations.
Most manufacturers know that if they do not fulfill these responsibilities, and a defective product makes it into an aircraft, they could be held liable. This can lead to significant financial costs and damages to the company’s reputation.
What should manufacturers do if they face a product liability claim?
The last thing that manufacturers should do is ignore a claim that one of their products was defective. It is critical to take swift, but strategic action to handle these claims. Manufacturers should:
- Avoid speaking directly with the other party: This is a general rule in any lawsuit. Manufacturers should avoid contact with the party who filed the complaint, so they can avoid further legal risks.
- Understand what the other party has to prove: The party that files a complaint has the burden of proof. They must generally prove three factors, including:
- The product was defective;
- The manufacturer knew about the defect; and
- The defective product created a hazard or caused an injury.
- Determine responses to those factors: Even though the party that files the complaint has the burden of proof, manufacturers should carefully consider the facts they collect from their investigation and develop answers to the three factors listed above.
- Consult an attorney: Product liability claims are complex. Manufacturers must speak with an experienced attorney before they move forward to safeguard their rights.
Aircraft manufacturers can learn much from the challenges Boeing has faced in the past year. They must be more careful than ever to protect the future of their business, especially if they face damaging allegations.