A defective products lawyer, or product liability lawyer, handles claims involving property damage or injury caused by a defective or dangerous product. For example, a defective products lawyer may handle issues with warranties, product liability, unsafe products, and returns.
Defective products lawyers, or “products and services lawyers,” may also handle lawsuits involving services, such as restaurant food poisoning or unsatisfactory automobile repairs. Medical malpractice is a form of product liability for faulty service. Some defective product or service lawsuits affect large groups of people and are filed as class action lawsuits.
The law in most states recognizes several theories of liability that can form the basis for a product liability case. Some of the legal theories that used in product liability cases are:
- Strict product liability;
- Fraudulent misrepresentation;
- Breach of warranty;
- Breach of the implied warranty of merchantability..
If a lawyer were to sue the manufacturer and distributors of a defective product, they would probably include causes of action based on each of these theories.
There are three types of product defects that result in liability on the part of manufacturers and distributors:
- Design Defects
- Design defects are defects that are inherent in the product even before it is manufactured because of a faulty design process or concept;.
- In 47 states, an injured person has the burden of proving the existence of a design defect. In Alaska, California, and Hawaii however, the company that is sued must justify the design of the product to show why there was no defect.
- Manufacturing Defects
- Manufacturing defects are defects that appear during the construction or production of the item.
- Defects in Marketing
There have been many famous lawsuits involving products with faulty designs, several of them involving automobiles. One of the more memorable cases involved the Ford Pinto which had its fuel tank in the rear of the car. This led to accidents in which the fuel tank ignited when the car was rear-ended even at low speeds. The car had to be recalled and there were product liability lawsuits on behalf of injured parties as well as people who died in accidents involving Pintos. Whether the Pinto in fact had a defective design is still a controversial topic.
Liability for a defective product is generally considered to be strict liability. This means that the manufacturer or distributor is legally liable when the injured person proves that the product is defective; the injured person does not have to prove that the manufacturer or retailer was negligent in making the product defective.
Whether the manufacturer or supplier exercised due care or breached a duty of care is not relevant. If there is a defect in the product that causes harm, the manufacturer and distributors of the product are liable for any injury or damage it has caused.
The implied warranty of merchantability is, as its name suggests, a legal doctrine that reads into every contract for the sale of goods or products an implied warranty. This means that the warranty is not expressly stated. Rather, the law implies that it is a provision in every contract for the sale of a product or good, unless the seller expressly excludes it or modifies it in some manner.
The implied warranty of merchantability means that the goods are of average quality for goods of the same kind, are fit for the ordinary uses to which goods of the same kind are put, have no more variations in quality than are common for such goods, are adequately packaged and labeled, and are as promised on any container or label. If a product breaches this warranty, the breach is grounds for a lawsuit alleging breach of the implied warranty of merchantability.