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3 Types of Product Liability Defects and How They Affect Your Claim

  • Nov 29, 2020
  • The Harr Law Firm

Consumer protection written on keyboard keyWhen we purchase a product, we are inherently trusting that the people who designed and manufactured the product have tested it thoroughly to ensure its safety. However, there are cases in which a product can harm a consumer, and when this occurs, it’s important to establish the reason for the harm and who is liable for the injury. This is typically done by determine the type of product defect. Here are 3 types of product defects and how they impact a product liability claim.

Defect in Design

This type of defect occurs within the product’s inherent design. Either it was simply designed poorly or it was not tested thoroughly enough to establish that it was safe to put it on the market. When there is a defect in a product’s design, this typically means that the entire line of products are also dangerous and can lead to injury. When a defect in design is discovered, the manufacturer will usually issue a product recall; they will either buy back and destroy all the defective products, or in cases such as vehicles, offer a free repair to fix the defect.

If the manufacturer fails to recall the product before multiple injuries occur, they may find themselves facing a class-action lawsuit. These are lawsuits in which multiple plaintiffs file a single suit against the manufacturer and/or distributors of the product to seek compensation. Such lawsuits usually end in a settlement that awards a portion of a lump sum to each plaintiff. If you’ve been injured by a defect in a product’s design, it may be worth investigating to see if other injuries have been reported and if a class-action lawsuit is already underway for that product.

A defect in design usually means that the corporation that originally created the product would be the primary responsible party for your injury, as they were the ones who designed and tested the inherently dangerous product before approving it for consumption.

Defect in Manufacturing

A defect in manufacturing is typically caused by an error or hazard that was introduced when the product was made. It’s important to note that these defects are not related to the product’s original design, and so, the majority of the products are likely safe. However, there still may be multiple products out there with the same defect as the one that injured you.

For example, let’s say you purchased a mattress that is perfectly safe in its design. However, during manufacturing, a batch of the mattresses were filled with foam that had been tainted with asbestos, a known carcinogen. This mistake makes the mattresses in that batch a serious health hazard, while all other mattresses of that design would be perfectly safe. In cases like these, the manufacturer will usually issue a recall for any mattresses purchased within a certain date range, in a certain geographic area, or from certain retailers, based on how and where the affected products were distributed.

In these cases, there may still be a class-action lawsuit in effect. If you were injured by a product that had a defect in manufacturing, it is still worth looking into class-action lawsuits, but because the number of products affected is smaller, you may be less likely to find one. It also typically means that they individual manufacturer will be the party held responsible for your injuries, especially if the defect was introduced through negligence on their part.

Defect in Marketing

A defect in marketing usually refers specifically to the warnings and instructions included with the product. Manufacturers are required to provide sufficient instructions for a product’s use, as well as any pertinent warnings (e.g., choking hazard, fire hazard, poison hazard, etc.) pertaining to the product’s assembly or use. If a company fails to provide sufficient warnings or instructions for a product, and such failure leads to an injury, you may be able to sue the company.

These kinds of defects don’t typically lead to injuries in large numbers, and are more likely to be an isolated incident. However, if a plaintiff can prove that their injury was directly caused by the lack of warnings and/or instructions, the company can still be held liable. This is a common defect for medications that don’t include sufficient warnings regarding potential side effects.

While the liable party is typically the corporation that created the product (as well as its instructions and warning labels), we usually recommend pursuing a case against all parties involved in the product’s creation and distribution, regardless of the type of product defect. This can include designers, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributers, and resellers alike. Naturally, such cases can get extremely complicated, so please contact us for a consultation on the best way to pursue compensation for your product liability injury.