The Low Down on Defective Product Lawsuits
Manufacturers, sellers, and retailers can be held liable for allowing a defective product to reach customers. Laws surrounding product liability are to establish who’s responsible for dangerous or defective products. However, it can be a rather difficult situation to grasp, especially for first timers.
Attorney Joseph Taraska explains that defective products are defined as any item that proves to be unreasonably dangerous when used for its intended purpose. Perhaps some of the most common defective product lawsuits revolve around children’s toys, medical devices, and food.
Proving product liability can be a tricky process that requires an attorney to navigate the highly confusing legal field. However, the basic requirements involve showing defects at the manufacturing level and an injury caused by the item when utilized for its original purpose.
The Definition of a Defective Product
Defects come in three primary categories — design, manufacturer, and marketing.
Defects in a product’s design are present before the product is even physically made. Companies can be held responsible for design defects when foreseeable risks are present at the design stage and the entity eventually produces the unsafe item anyway.
An exaggerated example would be a coffee cup’s base that melts whenever it touches hot fluid.
Most states require the plaintiff to show how the risk could’ve been avoided or limited by a different design, like making economically feasible changes that would have made the product safe to use.
Plaintiffs will often win their design defect cases if the product would have certainly been safe to use with a reasonable design change.
These defects happen during the assembly or manufacturing process through unintentional mistakes. The main difference between manufacturing defects and design defects is that the former are accidental, while the latter are intentional oversights from the initial development phases.
Some of the most common manufacturing defects are faulty screws, contaminated food items, and improperly assembled mechanisms.
Experts note that manufacturing defects tend to be easy to remedy.
Marketing defects occur from a lack of usage warnings or instructions. In other words, they’re flaws in how the product was advertised to consumers.
Such defects usually happen when companies fail to adequately inform customers of how to properly use an item or of a hazard associated with its usage.
During a defective product lawsuit, plaintiffs must show the court that the product fits one of these legal theories.
Understanding Defective Product Lawsuits
Injured parties need to meet three conditions to win defective product lawsuits:
- The defect caused an injury during intended usage.
- The product is unreasonably dangerous due to a fault.
- The product wasn’t altered from how it was initially sold.
However, certain factors could limit the amount of recovery awarded, such as:
- Being aware of the defect before utilizing the item.
- The statute of limitations in the state (i.e., they didn’t bring the defective product lawsuit to light within a specified timeframe).
- Mishandling the item or ignoring warnings or instructions.
While it isn’t a requirement, plaintiffs should always seek professional legal help when navigating their cases, due to the many caveats involved with defective product lawsuits.