Comparatively speaking, the number of products that are manufactured and/or purchased on a daily basis has steadily increased over the last few decades. Advancements in manufacturing technology and the expansion of online retailers means that consumers today are buying more products than ever before. These can range from home appliances to jewelry to even cars.
While the ease of purchasing household items may be beneficial for consumers, it leaves lots of businesses open to liability and various legal risks. For instance, the more products that are in the stream of commerce, the greater the chances are of a consumer being harmed by a product that has flaws or contains defects. Such products may also be referred to as dangerous products.
In general, a dangerous product is simply a product that causes injury to persons who purchase and use that product. A product may be considered dangerous for several reasons, including:
- When the original design of the product is inherently flawed or defective;
- If a manufacturer creates the product in a way that makes it unsafe for consumer use;
- When the product is sold without the proper instructions or warning labels; or
- If the product is advertised in a manner that encourages improper usage.
A consumer who is injured by a dangerous or defective product may be able to bring a product liability lawsuit against the product’s designer, manufacturer, distributor, and/or retailer. In addition to filing a lawsuit, consumers who prevail in product liability cases may also be able to recover monetary damages from the businesses that made or caused the product in question to become dangerous.
Thus, if you have been injured by a dangerous product, then you may want to speak to a local defective products attorney. An attorney can advise you on how to proceed with your particular products liability claim as well as can assist you with the entire legal process for these types of cases.
What is a Defectively Designed Product?
In a legal context, a defectively designed product refers to a consumer good that is not fit for use by the average consumer due to there being some kind of flaw in its original design.
In order to prove that a product was defectively designed, a consumer would have to show that:
- There is a defect in the overall product design;
- The design makes the product too dangerous for average consumer use; and
- The designer of the product could have created the product in another way that was both feasible and safer for consumer use.
Regardless of the issue, it is important to remember it is the defect in the design that makes the product dangerous or unsafe. Some examples of defectively designed products include the following:
- Products that have structural defects, such as a car seat that is equipped with a seatbelt that does not lock or keep the child secure in the seat;
- Products with defects that create hazardous conditions like products that are made with materials that easily catch fire, explode, or emit toxic chemicals;
- Products that have contamination defects, such as when food is made in a way that generates bacteria or contains foreign materials in violation of food and safety laws; or
- Products with mechanical defects like when a motor vehicle is designed in a way that makes it prone to flipping over, even when operating it under normal circumstances.
What is a Defectively Manufactured Product?
A product is said to be defectively manufactured when the product is not created according to the designer’s specifications or the product undergoes some type of error during the manufacturing process. A defectively manufactured product will pose a risk of consumer injury.
For example, if a car manufacturer forgets to include an air bag or uses old car parts to assemble a car, then the vehicle may be considered a defectively manufactured product. This is especially true in class action lawsuits involving product liability claims for motor vehicles in which numerous consumers have been injured by the decisions of a car manufacturer.
Can a Product Contain a Manufacturing Defect But Not a Design Defect?
As previously discussed, the way a manufacturer assembles a product may also make it defective or dangerous. Although their definitions may sound similar, it is important for consumers to note that a defectively manufactured product is very different from a defectively designed product.
For instance, a defectively manufactured product results from a mistake that occurred during the manufacturing process. Unlike a design defect, there may be nothing wrong or flawed with the overall design of the product. Instead, the product is safe until it enters the manufacturing plant. The manufacturer may assemble the product wrong or there may be an error with the way the product or one of its parts are made.
An example of a defectively manufactured product is when an essential piece of a product is left out on the assembly line, such as a screw or switch. This type of error frequently comes up in cases that involve defectively manufactured tractors and lawn mowers. In contrast, a defectively designed lawn mower would have already been dangerous before it reached the manufacturer or lost a screw.
Another example that can help distinguish the difference between the two is when there is a defect that involves a dangerous chemical like in cleaning products. For instance, if the formula and design of an overall cleaning product do not pose a danger to consumers, then the product is most likely free from a design defect.
On the other hand, the cleaning product may become defective if at the manufacturing plant all of the bottles receive a crack in them, which in turn, causes the formula to leak out and poison consumers after they purchase it. In such a scenario, it will be the manufacturer, not the designer, who can be held liable. However, there are some cases wherein the manufacturer and designer will be one in the same.
What is a Marketing Defect?
A marketing defect, also known as a warning defect, may arise when a company fails to include instructions, apply a proper warning label, or market the product in a way that alerts consumers to the potential risks of using a product or using a product in a way that contravenes its intended use.
Some of examples of when a business may be held liable for a marketing defect include:
- When a business fails to attach warning labels to a potentially dangerous product (e.g., cleaning solutions);
- If a business attaches a warning label, but the writing on the label is too small for consumers to read it or the label is placed in a location that is not obvious to consumers;
- When a business includes warnings labels and instructions, but they contain the wrong information like with over the counter medications; or
- If a business markets the product in a way that encourages improper use and risk of injury to consumers (e.g., a commercial in which the actors are using the product in an inappropriate way).
Are There Other Kinds of Dangerous Products?
Most products are safely marketed, designed, and manufactured. However, there are instances wherein a product may become altered or modified at some point between the time a product leaves the manufacturer to the time it reaches a consumer.
In such cases, it is usually a distributor, seller, or supplier that can be held liable for resulting consumer injuries caused by a dangerous product. The consumer may then sue any of these entities for damages.
An example of this type of dangerous product defect may occur when a distributor and/or seller removes a safety feature from a product like a childproof lock or similar mechanism.
Can I File a Dangerous Products Lawsuit?
As previously mentioned, a consumer may file a lawsuit involving dangerous product issues. However, the consumer must be able to prove that the product was dangerous, the defect that makes it dangerous caused them harm, and that they can recover actual damages for their injury.
A consumer who wins a dangerous products lawsuit may be issued a monetary damages award. The award may be used to pay for related medical bills, lost income, and the cost of a replacement product.
Do I Need the Help of a Lawyer with a Dangerous Products Case?
Dangerous product lawsuits can be extremely difficult to navigate without the help of a lawyer. Oftentimes, these cases involve various complicated state product liability laws and require plaintiffs to adhere to many complex legal procedures. Accordingly, if you have sustained a serious bodily injury as a result of using a dangerous product, then it may be in your best interest to consult with a local defective products attorney for further legal advice.
An attorney who has experience in handling dangerous products cases will be able to determine if you have a viable claim for a lawsuit, and if not, can discuss other options of legal recourse. Your attorney can also explain how the laws in your state may affect the outcome of your case as well as your legal rights under those laws. In addition, your attorney can guide you through the legal process and can represent you in court or at a settlement conference.
Finally, if your dangerous products case causes a dispute to arise with an insurance company, your lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and can resolve your issue in a quick and efficient manner.