Massachusetts Product Liability Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

When you purchase a product, whether it's toothpaste or a riding lawnmower, you expect it to work as advertised. If you use the product as intended and it causes a serious injury, you may be able to file a product liability claim. Since Massachusetts is a strict liability state, you don't have to prove that the product was designed, manufactured, or marketed negligently in order to prevail. In addition, you also may be able to file a negligence lawsuit under the state's Consumer Protection Act if you can prove that the company engaged in unfair or deceptive acts.

Learn more about Massachusetts' product liability laws in the following sections.

Massachusetts Product Liability Claims: Overview

The three main types of defects to support a product liability claim are:

You must file your claim within the three-year statute of limitations (from the date of the injury) and make sure none of the affirmative defenses to your claim, such as modifications after the sale, apply. Even if you're not the person who bought the product, you may still have a valid claim if a product caused your injury.

Massachusetts Product Liability Laws: The Basics

If, after seeking medical attention for your injuries, you've determined that a defective product is to blame, you may want to file a claim. But how do you get started? We summarized the main points of Massachusetts' product liability claims below, so you won't have to wade through the legalese.

Statutes

Commonwealth of Massachusetts General Laws:

Strict Liability? Yes. The state's implied warranty of merchantability law, in practice, is nearly the same as strict product liability laws in other states.
Potential Parties to the Lawsuit

Potential Plaintiffs:

  • Original purchaser;
  • Purchaser's family members;
  • Guests of the purchaser or their family members; or
  • Employees of the purchaser.

Potential Defendants:

  • Manufacturers;
  • Wholesalers; and
  • Retailers.

Note: Any party in the chain of distribution may be held liable for a product liability claim.

Product Liability Negligence Claims

The seller of any product in Massachusetts has a duty to exercise reasonable care in the design, manufacture, and sale/marketing of the product.

Note: These claims are rare in Massachusetts. Most such claims are breach of implied warranty of merchantability claims.

Defenses to Product Liability Claims
  1. Sealed Container - The seller received and sold the product in a sealed container and had no reason to suspect the product was defective.
  2. Product Alteration - A third party (neither the manufacturer nor the seller) altered the product; this is not a defense if the alteration was pursuant to manufacturer instructions.
  3. Contributory Negligence - The product was used contrary to instructions, the user knew it was defective but still used it, or the user failed to exercise reasonable care.
  4. No Opportunity to Warn - In a failure to warn claim, plaintiff must prove that the seller/manufacturer knew or should have known the risk but acted unreasonably in its failure to warn.
  5. Lack of Safer Alternative - In an inadequate design claim, plaintiff must prove that safer, more-reasonable alternatives existed.
  6. Open and Obvious Risk - The risk of injury was obvious but the plaintiff was careless.
Time Limits for Filing Lawsuits
Breach of Warranty Claims

Any good sold in Massachusetts is automatically protected by an implied warranty of merchantability. In order to succeed in a breach of warranty of merchantability claim, the plaintiff must establish the following elements:

  1. The defendant was in fact a "merchant" as defined by the law;
  2. The product was sold/leased;
  3. The plaintiff's use of the product was foreseeable (i.e., the consumer used the product as intended);
  4. The product was defective; and
  5. The defect caused injury to the plaintiff.

Note: State laws are subject to change at any time, usually through the enactment of newly signed legislation but sometimes through higher court decisions and other means. Make sure you contact a North Carolina personal injury attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

  • Massachusetts Code - FindLaw's hosted version of Massachusetts General Laws and Constitution.
  • Massachusetts Laws - FindLaw's summaries of select Massachusetts laws, including criminal, injury, employment, family, and small business laws.

Massachusetts Product Liability Laws: Related Resources

Filing a Product Liability Claim? Contact a Massachusetts Attorney

Defective products -- whether there was flaw in the design, they were improperly manufactured, or there was a failure to warn about a potential hazard -- can result in serious injury or even death. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to a defective product, you may have a valid product liability claim. Contact a Massachusetts product liability attorney today to learn more about your rights and legal options.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.