In general, a defective manufactured product is a type of claim in a products liability case that occurs when a plaintiff is injured from an allegedly defectively manufactured item. This means there was possibly either some error in making the product and the problem arose at the factory or manufacturing plant where the product was made.
When a consumer is injured by a potentially defective product, they will bring this type of claim against the defendants who are usually some kind of manufacturer, repairer, or seller. The defendants to the case will then most likely argue that the injury was not in fact caused by the defect.
There are several defenses that are available to defendants in these types of cases. Many of them will depend on whether the products liability claim is based on strict products liability, negligence, or a breach of warranty. Others will depend on the kind of incident involved in the case and what is provided in the laws of a state.
If you are a manufacturer or wholesaler that is involved in a defective products liability case, it may be in your best interest to contact a local personal injury attorney to determine whether or not any of the defenses listed below are applicable to your case.
What Defenses Can Be Used in a Defective Product Liability Case?
Some of the common defenses against a products liability claim include the following:
- Assumption of Risk: Assumption of risk occurs when a plaintiff knows there is a danger associated with something (in this instance a product), but voluntarily assumes the risk of the harm regardless. When the plaintiff acts in this manner, they will be barred from receiving damages.
- To prove assumption of risk, the defendant must have evidence that clearly demonstrates that the plaintiff knew or was aware of the risk involved and ignored it, which then ended up being the cause of the plaintiff’s injury.
- Substantial Change Defense: If there has been a substantial change or modification to the product by a consumer (the plaintiff), and the change or modification is what led to the plaintiff’s injury, then the manufacturer could potentially be relieved from liability. This is due to the fact that the cause of the injury was based on the actions done by the plaintiff (i.e., changing the product themselves).
- Only a plaintiff’s unexpected and unforeseeable changes to the product, however, will relieve the manufacturer of liability. If the manufacturer could have predicted that a consumer might alter or modify the product in such a fashion, then their changes will not relieve the manufacturer of liability.
- Contributory Negligence or Comparative Fault: In states that follow the contributory negligence method, if the plaintiff contributed to their own injuries, then the plaintiff may be barred from receiving any damages.
- In states that have comparative fault as a defense, if the plaintiff contributed to their injury, then their damages might reduce their recovery based on the amount of fault attributed to them causing their injury.
- Statute of Limitations Expired: Statute of limitations refers to a particular time period that the plaintiff can bring a claim in and varies depending on the incident and the state. If the time frame has expired, then a defendant may be able to argue that the plaintiff can longer bring the claim.
- Usually, the time frame allotted for a plaintiff to file a claim in court is approximately three years. Again, this will depend on the state statute and type of injury or crime committed.
- Other Causes: A defendant can also argue that there was some other factor that caused the plaintiff’s injury other than their product. In such a case, the defendant must prove that the product or design of the defendant’s product was not the actual cause of the plaintiff’s injury.
Since there are at least three primary types of product liability claims that could be brought during a defective product case (e.g., negligence, breach of warranty, and strict liability), the defenses listed above may not work for all claims.
For example, some defenses might work for a negligence claim, but will not be available to use for a claim of strict liability. In order to determine which type of defense applies to you, you should contact an attorney to find the best option for you.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for Help with Issues Involving Defective Product Liability?
If you are a distributor, manufacturer, retailer, or wholesaler who is facing a defective products liability claim based on the fact that you might have distributed, manufactured, or sold a defective product, then you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately.
A qualified personal injury attorney will be able to determine whether you have any defenses available against the defective product liability claim, can help you to protect your rights, and represent you in court if necessary.