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What is a Defective Product?

A defective product is defined as any product that is unreasonably dangerous when it is being used for its intended purpose without any alterations or interference. More specifically, a defective product is one that causes injury to a person due to a design defect, a manufacturer defect, or a marketing defect.

Defective products can include anything from food items, to medical devices, to a children’s toy. 

What are Design Defects?

Defects of this nature are present in the product from the beginning, even before it is manufactured. A company becomes liable for a design defect when there was a foreseeable risk posed by the product during manufacturing and the company chose to continue creating an unsafe product.

In many states, the courts require that plaintiffs show that the risk could have been reduced or avoided by a reasonably alternative design. A reasonably alternative design means that the manufacturer could actually make the changes, the cost for the changes was economically feasible, and the product would be virtually the same as the unsafe product.

Two common examples of a design defect is a power saw that doesn’t have a hand guard, or a children’s toy that poses a choking hazard. Products that have a design defect are inherently dangerous and can only be fixed by altering the original design to fix the defect. 

What are Manufacturer Defects?

Defects of this type result from an unintentional mistake during the manufacturing process. These defects cause the product to be more dangerous that what the company and consumer expected.

The biggest difference between a design defect and a manufacturer defect is that a design defect was intentional and a manufacturer defect was an unintentional flaw that occurs when the product is made. Also, a manufacturer defect is typically easier to fix because the defect could be remedied by simply changing a material or the process of how a product is put together.

Common examples of manufacturer defects include: faulty screws or bolts, contaminated medications, contaminated food products, and faulty mechanisms.

What are Marketing Defects?

Defects of this nature result from flaws in the way the product is marketed like improper labeling, insufficient instructions or inadequate safety warnings. Marketing defects are commonly associated with a company’s “failure to warn” a consumer about the proper way to use a product or about a hazard associated with a product. 

This type of defect largely results from injuries sustained from a product. Common examples include use of vehicles or medical equipment. Dangerous equipment like chainsaws or any heavy machinery often come with a lot of warnings, mainly due to the hazardous nature and inherent danger in the product.

What Law Governs Lawsuits For Defective Products?

Generally, the law that governs defective products is referred to as product liability. This area of law refers to the responsibility held by the manufacturer, designer, distributor, or retailer of any consumer product to ensure that it does not cause harm to the consumer.

Three conditions must exist to recover for injuries caused by a defective product:

  1. The product had an unreasonably dangerous defect;
  2. The defect caused an injury while the product was being used in a way that it was intended to be used; and
  3. The product had not been changed substantially in terms of operation from the way that it was originally sold.

Limitations on Recovery for Defective Product Injuries

While courts want injured users a chance to recover damages, there are certain key points that can limit the amount of recovery:

  • You must not have known about the defect before using the product - if you decided to use the product despite the known defect, then it may limit your recovery.
  • Each state has a different set of statute of limitations, which is the time in which you are allowed to bring your claim.
  • If you mishandled the product and ignored warnings/instructions, which ultimately made it break and defective.

While there are inherent defects in items, there are also defects that can be created due to mishandling or tampering of the item. However, it is typically judged on a case by case basis. You must be prepared to admit any tampering that may have rendered the product dangerous and defective, as it is an important factor for liability.

Should You Contact an Attorney for a Defective Product?

If you believe you have an injury caused by a defective product, you should speak to with one or more Defective Products Lawyers immediately to learn more about preserving your rights and remedies. Certain defective products may be part of a class action lawsuit.

Photo of page author Amanda Wiseman

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 07-11-2018 10:19 PM PDT

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