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The basics of Tennessee’s products liability statutes

One of the most important steps in preparing for any lawsuit is determining which laws will govern the case. According to the Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute, products liability law is usually governed by previous court rulings and the provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code. In Tennessee, however, legislators have included a section on product liability in the state’s statutes. 

The state’s laws governing product liability actions are found in title 29 of the Tennessee Code. Under these laws, manufacturers and sellers can be held liable if their goods cause an injury to a person or to property. In order to succeed in their claims, plaintiffs in these cases must show that when the product in question left the hands of the defendants, it was in a defective or unreasonably dangerous condition.

The danger posed by the product cannot have been one that would have been apparent to an ordinary user. Goods that caused injuries after they were altered, improperly maintained or used in an unforeseeably abnormal fashion will not create liability for a defendant.

When determining whether a product was defective or unreasonably dangerous, courts will take the standard practices and techniques of the industry into consideration. If a defendant can show that a product was manufactured or sold in compliance with governmental standards, it creates a rebuttable presumption that the product was safe for consumer use.

Legal claims brought under Tennessee’s product liability laws must be initiated within a certain time period. Generally, these lawsuits must be filed within 6 years of the injury, 10 years of the purchase date or 1 year after the end of the product’s anticipated life, whichever is shorter.  

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