A defective product is a product that has an imperfection that can make it unreasonably dangerous to consumers. Usually these imperfections are in either the design or manufacturing of the product, and the dangerous nature of the imperfection can result in physical harm. Claims regarding defective products usually fall into three categories:

  • Defective Design: A design defect means that the product was manufactured correctly, but that there is an error or defect in the actual design of the product that makes it dangerous to consumers. Cases of design defects tend to involve claims that the defendant did not use a “reasonable design alternative” that was less dangerous and economically feasible. 
    • For example, a design defect may involve a car that has a tendency to flip over when turning sharp corners, children’s toys that contain choking hazards, or an electric blanket that can electrocute the user when turned on high.
  • Defective Manufacturing: The product was properly designed, but something happened in the manufacturing process to cause a flaw in this individual product. As a result, this particular product is different (and more dangerous) from the others next to it on the shelf. 
    • In cases of defective manufacturing, the defective product in question is “dangerous beyond the expectation of the ordinary consumer.” Companies may initiate product recalls once they are aware of the possibility of manufacturing defects. 
    • Examples of defective manufacturing can include cough syrup that has been contaminated with foreign objects in the factory.
  • Insufficient or Inadequate Warnings: All products must come with clear and complete warnings of any dangers that may not be immediately apparent. Inadequate warnings can be considered a type of design defect if they do not warn consumers of the dangers of using the product. 
    • For example, prescription drugs must include information about drug interactions, side effects, and other warnings. In fact, most warning labels that you see on naturally dangerous objects, like a wood chipper, are there for that very reason.

Can I Sue Because a Product is Faulty or Defective?

If you have suffered an injury due to a faulty or defective product, you may have a product liability claim. In order to prove a product liability claim, you will need to show all of the following things:

  • You have sustained some kind of injury of suffered some kind of loss;
  • The product is defective;
  • The defect caused your injury; and 
  • You were using the product as it was intended.

This can be tricky in certain claims, because proving a product defect can be difficult if the product has been damaged. For example, if you are claiming that your vehicle’s brakes were faulty due to a manufacturing defect, then this claim may be tricky to prove if the vehicle has been in a serious accident.

At the same time, you will need to base your product liability claim on a certain legal theory of liability, which can include several branches depending on your state:

  • Battery: This theory depends largely on what the defendant knew about the product. If the defendant knew the product was dangerous and didn’t put the corresponding warning labels on it, then the defendant may be held liable for battery if the product injures someone.
  • Negligence: If it is reasonably foreseeable that a defective product could cause harm to a consumer, a negligence claim may be part of a lawsuit. The defendant has a duty of reasonable care to make or sell a product free of unknown risks. The defendant will be held liable if a breach of that duty of care caused the plaintiff’s injury.
  • Strict Liability: In strict liability cases, it doesn’t matter whether the risk was reasonably foreseeable. The defendant will be held liable if their product caused someone injury.
  • Breach of Warranty: In breach of warranty claims, you must show that a warranty applied to the product, and that the product did not meet the terms of the warranty. There are actually different types of warranties that can apply in these types of cases, as well:
    • Express Warranties: Express warranties come from promises. If the seller makes promises about a product (whether through their words or actions), then an express warranty is created.
    • Implied Warranty of Merchantability: To be considered “merchantable,” products must reasonably conform to an ordinary buyer’s expectations. This implied warranty simply means that the product is of an acceptable quality and fit for its ordinary purpose.
    • Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose: If the seller knows that the buyer is purchasing a product for a particular purpose, and the buyer is relying on the seller’s judgment or expertise, there is an implied warranty of fitness.

Are Class Action Lawsuits Available for Faulty or Defective Products?

In cases where a large number of people are affected or injured by the same defective product, there may be a class action path available. If the members of the group are injured in the same way by the same product, and the legal and factual questions in each case are the same, it may be more efficient to take part in a class action product liability case. 

There are, however, several things to iron out before joining a class action case, and you should consult a qualified attorney before making a decision to join the lawsuit.

Should I Talk to a Lawyer About a Faulty or Defective Product?

If you or someone you love have been injured by a poorly designed, malfunctioning, or otherwise defective product, it is in your best interests to consult a personal injury attorney. Your attorney can help you talk through the circumstances of your case and provide sound advice about how to protect your rights.

If you decide a lawsuit is the best option, then your lawyer can also represent you in court and guide you through each step of the legal process in order to get the best possible result for your case.