Product liability for machines due to product defects

Key aspects that can lead to product liability for machinery and industrial equipment.

Product liability for machines due to product defects

Product defects in machinery and equipment within the meaning of the German Product Liability Act (ProdHaftG)

According to § 3 ProdHaftG, “a product has a defect if it is not
provides the security that, taking into account all the circumstances …
may reasonably be expected” .

§ Section 823 of the German Civil Code regulates the liability for damages. §823 Abs.1 BGB, however, does not define the product defect, but requires that the product must not pose a hazard.

Four (technical) product defects

Reasons for product liability under the Product Liability Act are the (technical) defect types:

  1. Development error / design error,
  2. Instructional Error,
  3. Errors in product observation,
  4. Manufacturing defects.
If the product or machine does not meet the requirements of Annex I of the Machinery Directive, there is usually a design defect.
Real examples of the different product defects can be found under the link“Product liability“.
Manufacturing defects (material defects) can lead to product liability.

Case law example

A very frequently cited ruling on jurisdiction for product defects / product liability comes from the Regional Court of Stuttgart with the case number 26 O 466/10 dated April 10, 2012.

According to this ruling, it is confirmed that manufacturers of machines with a high risk potential are obliged to take all reasonable and necessary measures through design and user information to avert the dangers that may arise from the use of the machine.

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Current value machine, plant in liability damage – 7 simple facts

The current value is particularly important in the case of liability damage, because only this will be replaced as a maximum (deduction “new for old”). It can also become important in property insurance. In principle, industrial companies and commercial enterprises should “know” their values (insurance value, new values, current values).

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