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What Are the Three Types of Product Liability Claims?

Take a second to think about a product you use every day. It can be a personal electronic device, a household appliance, or even a hygiene product – anything at all. Now, consider how it could cause harm to you if it was poorly designed, poorly manufactured, or didn’t warn you about certain dangers concerning its use.

These are all defects that can provide the grounds necessary for a product liability lawsuit, which is a legal action taken against a company for distributing defective products that can cause injury. Let’s dig into each of these defects below to learn a little more about them.

Products Can Be Defective in Three Different Ways

When people think about a “defective product,” they might think this term only concerns items that are broken or don’t work upon purchase. In personal injury law, though, a defective product is something that can cause harm because it has a faulty design, it was manufactured incorrectly, or it doesn’t provide consumers with enough warning about the potential dangers of using it.

Design Defects

Sometimes products are doomed on the drawing board. In other words, a product can be poorly designed such that properly using it puts the consumer at risk of sustaining an injury. This type of defect is often attributed to manufacturing errors, and that’s understandable – consumers don’t have the blueprints or design sheets for their products to see that the problem with them was there since Day One!

Within the context of product liability law, a good example of a design defect would be a smartphone that has a battery with a tendency to explode when the phone is dropped onto a hard surface. Because people dropping their smartphones is a pretty mundane (and sometimes expensive) occurrence, the company would have a hard time arguing that it didn’t take drops into account during the design phase.

Manufacturing Defects

Manufacturing defects are the ones people often notice the most, but sometimes they’re not even aware that anything’s wrong.

A prime and unfortunately common example of a manufacturing defect is the use of lead-based paint in children’s toys. In these cases, the defect occurs during the manufacturing process because whoever is building the product is in charge of ensuring that the materials used are safe and conform to the product’s design specifications.

A more recent example of a possible manufacturing defect would be the recent recall of certain Johnson and Johnson sunscreen products. Allegedly, a cancer-causing substance – which is normally not found in these products – showed up in lab results exceeding the FDA’s regulatory limits.

Failure to Warn of a Hazard

Sometimes the problem with a product is with neither its design nor its manufacturing, but because it didn’t provide enough warning about its hazards. A classic example of this defect is a blender that lacks any sort of warning against putting your hand inside and turning on the device. Although it seems like an obvious thing you shouldn’t do, the company that made the blender can be on the hook for failing to warn consumers against putting their hands inside the appliance.

While most of us probably don’t need the required warning against putting electronics in water or sticking our hands inside blenders, not all hazards are so obvious. This is especially the case for medication, be it prescription or over-the-counter. Sometimes drugs that increase the risk of certain illnesses or adverse health conditions can be at the center of product liability lawsuits when they fail to warn consumers of known risks.

Smolich and Smolich are here to help. Contact us if you or a loved one has been injured by a defective product.