Product liability allows a seller, retailer, or manufacturer of a product to be held liable for allowing a defective product to reach consumers, regardless of the consumer’s own negligence. Laws governing product liability determine what parties are responsible for dangerous or defective products.
One example of this would be a product manufacturer being held liable for allowing a defective product to enter the stream of commerce. However, it is important to note that all of the parties involved in the distribution chain can be held liable for product liability issues.
The state laws that govern product liability claims vary. Commercial statutes in every state are modeled after the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) which contains warranty rules that affect product liability issues.
What Is a Defective Product?
A defective product is any product that is unreasonably dangerous when it is used for its intended purposes without any alterations or interference. Specifically, a defective product is a product that causes injury to an individual because of one of the following:
- A design defect;
- A manufacturing defect;
- A marketing defect.
Examples of common defective products include, but are not limited to the following:
- Medical devices;
- Food items;
- Children’s toys.
In order for a plaintiff to prove product liability, they will be required to show:
- The product was defective upon being manufactured;
- The product’s manufacturer, seller, or distributor intended for the product to reach the plaintiff without any changes being made through the process; and
- The plaintiff or their property was injured in some way by the product.
What Is a Manufacturing Defect?
If a product has a manufacturing defect, it can become dangerous, unsafe, or unfit for consumer use because of the way that it was constructed or assembled during the manufacturing process. A manufacturing defect claim is a type of legal claim that is often the basis of product liability lawsuits.
A product liability lawsuit is a claim brought by a plaintiff against a defendant to hold them responsible for making a dangerous or defective product that injured the plaintiff when they used it. A manufacturing defect is different from other types of product liability claims, such as design defects.
These two types of defects are often confused. However, a design defect is specifically related to how the product was designed as opposed to how it was manufactured.
In other words, if a manufacturing defect occurs, there is not an issue with the product design. Instead, the error that occurs while the product is being manufactured is the issue that results in the product having a dangerous effect that leads to a consumer’s injury.
Another issue that is often joined with a manufacturing defect claim in a product liability lawsuit is a warning label defect. A warning label defect arises when there is a failure to provide sufficient warning labels on a product before selling it.
What Are Some Types of Manufacturing Defects?
As noted above, defective product lawsuits often arise when an individual is injured due to a manufacturing defect. Numerous different types of manufacturing defects may serve as the basis for this type of claim because many of these claims are based on tort law.
Examples of the types of manufacturing defects that may cause harm to a consumer may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Using the wrong kind of fastener, such as a screw, bolt, or other fastener on mechanical parts of a product;
- Attaching the parts of a product together incorrectly;
- Installing outdated or improper components on a product;
- Using the wrong color paint on an item, especially when the color was chosen for a safety reason;
- Trimming excess plastic or material from a manufacturing mold incorrectly;
- Installing electric circuitry in a manner that will cause electrical shock;
- Various other types of manufacturing errors, which again can arise on a case-by-case basis.
The types of manufacturing defects that arise will depend on the product in question. Different types of products, therefore, may lead to different outcomes in each case.
Who Can Potentially Be Held Liable for a Manufacturing Defect?
In the majority of cases, a manufacturer of a product will be held liable for a manufacturing defect. It is important to note, however, that many companies will hire a separate outside source to either complete the production or, at the very least, some of the manufacturing steps that are involved in creating the product.
Because of separate outside sources taken into account, it may be necessary to consult with a lawyer to determine whether or not multiple parties may be held liable for a single defective product injury. Generally, any party in the product’s chain of distribution may be liable for the manufacturing defect.
Although it is typically the manufacturer themselves, other parties who may be held liable include:
- The manufacturer of specific component parts;
- A wholesaler of the product;
- The distributor of a product; and
- The retailer who sold the product to consumers.
It is important to note that the plaintiff does not have to be the individual who purchased the product. Any individual whom the manufacturer could reasonably foresee as an individual whom the product could injure may be able to recover from their injuries.
For example, if a parent purchases a toy for their toddler and the toddler is injured by that toy because of a manufacturing defect, the toy manufacturer can be held liable for the toddler’s injuries. Some states may limit or reduce a plaintiff’s award if it can be proven that they were also partly responsible for causing their own injuries.
For example, if a victim fails to follow the product’s warning label or proper instructions, the monetary damages award may be reduced.
What Should I Know About a Defective Product Lawsuit?
In order for a plaintiff, or injured party, to recover for the injuries that were caused by a defective product, they must show three things:
- The product had an unreasonably dangerous defect;
- This defect caused an injury while the product was being used in its intended way; and
- The product was not changed in any substantial way from how it was originally sold.
The amount of recovery may be limited by several factors, including:
- Knowing about the defect before using the product;
- In other words, if the plaintiff decided to use the product despite being aware of its defect, the court may limit their recovery;
- The state’s statute of limitations;
- If the plaintiff did not bring their case in the allotted time period, they may be barred from bringing their claim; or
- Mishandling the product or ignoring instructions or warnings, which leads to the product breaking or being defective.
Some defects may be created as a result of mishandling or tampering with an item. It is important for a plaintiff to admit or deny any tampering that may have rendered the product dangerous and defective because this is an important factor in determining liability.
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Help With Issues Involving a Manufacturing Defect?
If you or your loved one has been injured as a result of a manufacturing defect, it may be in your best interests to consult with a defective products lawyer for legal advice. Your lawyer has the training and experience to present these complex cases in the best way to ensure you recover the highest amount possible for your injuries.
In addition, your lawyer can represent you during any settlement negotiations and provide representation when you have to appear in court.