Injury from defective goods: the Louisiana Products Liability Act

The Louisiana Products Liability Act provides a legal remedy for people harmed by dangerous products.

Media coverage about defective products causing injury or death is hard to miss. We all probably have heard stories of children getting sick or dying because they ingested lead from toys or motor vehicle accidents caused by defective brakes.

Louisiana Products Liability Act

The laws that have grown out of these types of injuries are called products liability laws, governed mostly by state law. In 1988, Louisiana created an exclusive legal remedy against manufacturers when their defective goods harm or kill consumers and other users: claims under the Louisiana Products Liability Act or LPLA.

What is a manufacturer?

The LPLA defines a manufacturer as a "person or entity" that manufactures a product to be placed into "trade or commerce." Manufacturing a product can mean "producing, making, fabricating, constructing, designing, remanufacturing, reconditioning or refurbishing," even if the product has a component or part manufactured by another entity.

The law also considers certain other people or entities to be manufacturers subject to liability:

  • Someone who puts its name on a product label
  • A seller who controls a "characteristic of the design, construction or quality" of a product that causes injury
  • A seller who sells goods made by an "alien manufacturer" outside the U.S. if the seller is the foreign manufacturer's "alter ego"

Elements of an LPLA claim

To be successful, an LPLA claimant must prove that:

  • An unreasonably dangerous characteristic of the product proximately caused damage during a "reasonably anticipated use" of the product
  • The product was unreasonably dangerous in construction, composition or design; or because of inadequate warning; or because it did not meet an express warranty
  • The product's unreasonably dangerous characteristic must have either existed when it left the manufacturer's control or happened from a "reasonably anticipated alteration or modification"

Recoverable damages

If a claimant proves his or her case and the manufacturer is found to be liable under the LPLA, the injured party can collect compensatory damages for specific types of past and future harm, including:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Wrongful death
  • And more

Louisiana legal counsel

This is only a brief introduction to state product liability law in Louisiana. The law and cases interpreting it can be very detailed and complex, so it is a good idea if you are injured by a defective product to retain a Louisiana personal injury attorney with specific experience trying LPLA cases. A knowledgeable product liability lawyer can handle communications with any involved insurance companies; can organize an investigation; can see that important scientific tests are conducted and experts consulted; can negotiate on your behalf with the manufacturer or fight for you in the courtroom, if necessary.

Keywords: Louisiana Products Liability Act, LPLA, dangerous product, defective good, injury, wrongful death, manufacturer, liability, elements, unreasonably dangerous, damages, compensatory damages