Posted in News on January 2, 2014
Technology is constantly evolving, and in some cases, is empowering the consumer. In addition to putting the consumer in control, one such technological advancement, which may directly impact the legal landscape of product liability, is 3-dimensional printing technology.
Montana residents not familiar with this latest advancement may find it interesting to learn 3D printers are now an affordable technology, which uses a computer console and allows a person to create 3-dimensional products or objects of practically any shape. For instance, an individual can use the 3D printer to manufacture items such as high heels, handguns, vases and more.
The ability to create objects using such printers rather than purchasing such products in a store have led legal scholars to evaluate how 3D printer manufactured products are treated when someone gets hurt. According to a Stanford University professor, consumers may not have the same protection afforded to them under traditional product liability law if they suffer an injury after using a 3D printer product.
In a recent study which looked at the changing legal landscape of product liability law noted that under traditional products liability law if a defective product harms the consumer, the manufacturer of the product may be found negligent. On the other hand, when it comes to 3D printing technology products, the injured party’s only legal recourse may be a lawsuit based on negligence. The author cited the “commercial-casual-divide” which refers to commercial manufacture or sellers falling under product liability law, while a casual seller such as someone who sells homemade jam falling under negligence based law.
Even though the study only addresses what legal recourse an individual would have if they were injured by a product made using a 3D printer at home, it is essential to remember that this technology is in its infancy stage. However, manufacturers are using 3D printer technology to manufacture products. Because of this, it is important that consumers harmed by dangerous or defective products understand their options. Depending on the situation, injured consumers may be able to pursue compensation from designers, manufacturers and sellers of defective products. A product liability attorney could provide injured consumers with more information regarding their legal rights.
Source: Futurity, “If You Get Hurt Wearing 3D-Printed Heels, Who Is Negligent?,” Clifton Parker-Stanford, Dec. 18, 2013