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Seasoned Sacramento Injury Attorneys

Who Is Liable for a Dangerously Defective Product?


When a product causes injury because of a defect, those responsible for its design, manufacture, distribution, and/or sale may be liable. Identifying responsible parties is one of the first essential steps when initializing a product liability claim. Without knowing who to hold accountable, it can be difficult or impossible to recover damages for injuries.

When a Product’s Design Is Defective

A product can be defective from the start. That is, its design makes its intended use inherently dangerous to the user or those nearby, regardless of its manufacturing or sale.

Take a space heater, for example. Because a space heater is intended to generate heat, its design should take into account how the device can safely produce heat and do so for an extended period of time. It should also take into account how consumers might normally use or operate the device.

If the space heater in this example is designed such that it generates heat that’s dangerous to people or can’t withstand even a “safe” level of heat, it might have a defective design. If a user tries to turn off the device or adjust it and is burned while doing so, it might also have a design defect.

When a Product’s Manufacturing Is Defective

A product can be safely designed but acquire dangerous defects during manufacturing. Typically, this occurs when products are incorrectly assembled or use alternative materials.

Returning to our space heater example, let’s assume the design was sound. Looking to widen its profit margin, however, the manufacturer decided to use a different material that was similar to the one required by the design. That material should still perform just as the intended material should because if it doesn’t, the product may not be able to properly withstand or insulate the heat. This can result in serious injury to the consumer.

Another common manufacturing defect that occurs is exposure to toxic substances. Products can be exposed to a number of substances that can cause illnesses such as cancer. Any manufacturing process that uses materials that were exposed to toxic substances can result in a manufacturing defect claim.

When a Defective Product Is Sold to Consumers

Distributors and retailers are responsible for placing safe products in their customers’ hands. They are also responsible for pulling dangerous products from their shelves.

Because of these responsibilities, they can be held liable in a product liability lawsuit – especially if they were aware of a product’s poor design or shoddy manufacturing. Proving this can be difficult, but it may not be necessary to succeed in a product liability lawsuit.

When a Product Fails to Warn of Its Risks

Sometimes there is nothing wrong with a product’s design, manufacturing, or sale. In many cases, a product can operate exactly as it’s designed to operate but still be defective because it fails to warn consumers of its potential risks.

This happens a lot in the pharmaceutical industry when drug makers fail to warn consumers of the possible side effects and other risks of using a drug. Claims such as this have generated many class-action lawsuits over the years as plaintiffs have held pharmaceutical companies accountable for failing to warn consumers of their products’ potential risks.

A company’s responsibility to warn consumers of its products dangers, even during normal use, is also why our hypothetical space heater should come with a booklet and stickers advising consumers of its hazards.

Were You Injured by a Defective Product?

If you were injured or made ill by a defective product, don’t wait to contact an attorney. You have a free case review with Smolich and Smolich, which means we can discuss your claim and help you determine the next step you want to take in pursuing compensation for your injuries.

Learn more about how we can help today. Contact us now to get started.