Washington Product Liability Laws

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

Manufacturers, marketers, retailers, and suppliers each owe a duty to consumers to protect them from dangerous and defective products. If businesses fail to meet this obligation, they can be held legally liable for the harm caused by their products. The exact laws determining liability depend on the specific product liability laws of the state where the cause of action arises. Read on to learn about product liability laws in the state of Washington.

Recoverable Damages

A Washington consumer who is harmed by a defective or dangerous product may be able to recover compensation for the following:

  • Medical expenses and hospital costs;
  • Lost wages (present and future);
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Emotional distress; and
  • Wrongful death of a family member.

Washington Product Liability Laws at a Glance

The laws governing product liability can be difficult to comprehend without a good understanding of legalese. To help cut to the chase, read the chart below, which features easy-to-follow takeaways from Washington's product liability laws and explains how they could impact your potential claim.

Statutes

Washington Revised Code Title 7. Special Proceedings and Actions:

  • Section 7.72.010 (definitions)
  • Section 7.72.020 (scope)
  • Section 7.72.030 (liability of manufacturer)
  • Section 7.72.040 (liability of product seller other than manufacturer- exception)
  • Section 7.72.050 (relevance of industry custom, technological feasibility, and nongovernmental, legislative, or administrative regulatory standards)
Manufacturer's Liability

The manufacturer of a product is liable for the consumer's damages if the manufacturer's negligence was the proximate cause of the consumer's injuries. This could be due to any one of the following:

  • The product by design was not "reasonably safe";
  • The product left the manufacturer's control in a condition that "deviated in some material way from the design standards of the manufacturer or of the "same product line";
  • The product was dangerous because the manufacturer didn't include adequate warnings; or
  • The manufacturer didn't use "reasonable care" in informing customers of a defect that was discovered after the product was manufactured.

Determining Defective/Dangerous Products

Risk/Utility Test

The injured person shows that the chance of an injury multiplied by the seriousness of the potential injuries cost more that it would be for the company to use another product design.

The court will consider the following factors:

  • The likelihood that the product will cause the harm to others that it caused to the plaintiff;
  • Whether the severity of the plaintiff's injury makes any of the manufacturers' warnings/instructions inadequate; and
  • The feasibility of manufacturer providing adequate warnings.

Consumer Expectation Standard

The victim must show that the product fails to meet the expectations of a reasonable consumer, but they don't have to show the availability of an alternative design.

The court will consider these factors:

  • The nature of the product;
  • The defect in question;
  • The cost of the product;
  • The risk of harm the product could cause; and
  • The cost of reducing or eliminating the harm.
Breach of Warranty Claims A company is held strictly liable if the product was sold to the consumer with a warranty and the consumer suffered injuries resulting from a breach of the warranty.
Statute of Limitations The victim has 3 years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Washington Product Liability Laws: Related Resources

Talk to an Attorney About Washington Product Liability Laws

If you or someone close to you has been hurt by a defective product, you will probably want to talk to a legal professional familiar with this complex area of law. Contact a local Washington personal injury attorney immediately to explore the possibility of filing a suit against the manufacturer or seller.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.