Faulty or Defective Product Lawyers

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 What is a Defective Product?

A defective product is an item with an imperfection that has the potential to cause unreasonable harm to consumers. These imperfections typically arise during the design or manufacturing process, and the dangerous nature of these flaws can lead to physical injuries.

Defective product claims typically fall into three categories: defective design, manufacturing, and insufficient or inadequate warnings.

Defective Design

Defective design refers to a situation in which a product was manufactured correctly but contains a flaw in its design that makes it hazardous to consumers.

Such cases often involve claims that the defendant failed to utilize a “reasonable design alternative” that was less dangerous and economically viable.

Examples of design defects may include a car prone to flipping over during sharp turns, children’s toys with choking hazards, or electric blankets that can electrocute users at high settings.

Defective Manufacturing

Defective manufacturing happens when a product’s design is sound, but an error in the manufacturing process creates a flaw in a specific item. Consequently, this particular product becomes more dangerous than others on store shelves.

In these cases, the defective product is considered “dangerous beyond the expectation of the ordinary consumer.”

Product Recalls

Product recalls are actions taken by companies to remove potentially defective or harmful products from the market. When a company becomes aware of potential product manufacturing defects, it may initiate a recall to protect consumers and minimize potential legal liabilities.

The process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Discovery of the defect: The company may discover the defect through internal testing, consumer complaints, or reports from regulatory agencies. In some cases, defects become apparent after the product has caused accidents or injuries.
  2. Internal investigation: The company conducts an internal investigation to determine the extent of the defect and the number of products affected. This step may involve additional testing, reviewing manufacturing processes, and analyzing consumer feedback.
  3. Notification of regulatory agencies: In many jurisdictions, companies are legally required to notify relevant regulatory agencies (such as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission or the European Union’s RAPEX system) when they discover a product defect that poses a safety risk.
  4. Development of a recall strategy: The company, often in collaboration with regulatory agencies, develops a plan for recalling the affected products. This may include determining the scope of the recall (e.g., specific product models or batches), setting up a timeline, and identifying the appropriate communication channels for notifying consumers.
  5. Public announcement: The company publicly announces the recall, providing details about the defect, the affected products, and the steps consumers should take. This may involve press releases, social media announcements, or direct communication with customers through email or phone.
  6. Product retrieval: The company collects the defective products from consumers, retailers, and distributors. They may offer refunds, replacements, or repairs to affected customers.
  7. Corrective actions: The company addresses the root cause of the defect, making necessary changes to the manufacturing process, design, or quality control procedures to prevent similar issues in the future.
  8. Monitoring and reporting: The company monitors the recall’s progress, providing updates to regulatory agencies and ensuring that the affected products are removed from the market. They may also be required to submit follow-up reports to demonstrate the effectiveness of the recall.

Examples of product recalls include:

  1. Toyota’s unintended acceleration recall (2009-2010): Toyota recalled millions of vehicles due to a potential defect that could cause unintended acceleration, leading to accidents and injuries. The recall involved replacing floor mats, modifying gas pedals, and updating the software of the affected vehicles.
  2. Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall (2016): Samsung recalled their Galaxy Note 7 smartphones after numerous reports of the devices catching fire or exploding due to faulty batteries. The company offered refunds or replacements to affected customers and later discontinued the model.
  3. Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper recall (2019): Fisher-Price recalled 4.7 million Rock ‘n Play Sleepers after reports of more than 30 infant deaths linked to the product. The company offered refunds to customers who had purchased the sleepers.

Insufficient or Inadequate Warnings

Products must come with clear and comprehensive warnings regarding any dangers that may not be immediately apparent.

Inadequate warnings can be deemed a type of design defect if they fail to inform consumers about potential risks associated with product use.

Prescription drugs, for instance, must include information about drug interactions, side effects, and other essential warnings.

Most warning labels on inherently dangerous objects, such as wood chippers, serve this purpose.

Can I Sue Because a Product is Faulty or Defective?

You may have grounds for a product liability claim if you have experienced an injury due to a faulty or defective product.

To establish a product liability claim, you must demonstrate the following:

  1. You sustained an injury or incurred a loss.
  2. The product is defective.
  3. The defect caused your injury.
  4. You were using the product as intended.

Proving a product defect can be challenging, especially if the product has been damaged. For example, if you claim that your vehicle’s brakes were faulty due to a manufacturing defect, this may be difficult to prove if the car has been involved in a severe accident.

In addition, you will need to base your product liability claim on a specific legal theory of liability, which may differ depending on your jurisdiction:

  • Battery: This theory largely depends on the defendant’s product knowledge. If the defendant knew the product was dangerous and failed to apply appropriate warning labels, they may be held liable for battery if the product injures someone.
  • Negligence: If a defective product’s potential to cause harm to consumers is reasonably foreseeable, a negligence claim may be included in a lawsuit. Defendants have a duty of reasonable care to manufacture or sell products free from unknown risks. Defendants will be held liable if their breach of this duty results in the plaintiff’s injury.
  • Strict Liability: In strict liability cases, the foreseeability of the risk is irrelevant. Defendants will be held liable if their product causes injury.
  • Breach of Warranty: In breach of warranty claims, you must demonstrate that a warranty applied to the product and did not meet the warranty terms. Different types of warranties may apply in these cases.
  • Express Warranties: These warranties are based on promises the seller makes about a product through words or actions.
  • Implied Warranty of Merchantability: For a product to be considered “merchantable,” it must conform to an ordinary buyer’s expectations. This implied warranty suggests the product is acceptable and suitable for its intended purpose.
  • Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose: If the seller knows that the buyer intends to use the product for a specific purpose and relies on the seller’s judgment or expertise, an implied warranty of fitness exists.

Are Class Action Lawsuits Available for Faulty or Defective Products?

In situations where a large number of individuals are affected or injured by the same defective product, a class action lawsuit may be an available option. If the group members suffer similar injuries from the same product and share the same legal and factual questions, participating in a class action product liability case could be more efficient.

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

If you or a loved one has been injured by a poorly designed, malfunctioning, or otherwise defective product, it is in your best interest to consult with a defective product attorney. Your lawyer can help assess the circumstances of your case and offer informed advice on how to safeguard your rights.

If pursuing a lawsuit is the most suitable course of action, your attorney can represent you in court and guide you through each stage of the legal process to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

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