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3 Types of Defects for Product Liability Claim

Injuries due to defective products can happen to anyone anywhere. A flawed design of an aircraft component or a faulty airbag can cause severe injuries and even fatality. Product liability is an area of law put in place to offer legal ramifications for such defective products.

Product liability refers to the liability of manufacturers, distributors, retailers and other parties in the manufacturing chain of any product for damages or injuries caused by the said product. In layman’s terms, if a person is injured because of a defective product while using it as intended, he/she can claim product liability.

Defective products are broadly classified into three categories for product liability claim:

1. Defective Design

A design defect means the product was designed poorly, which in turn leads to manufacturing of defective products. Often faulty designs remain undetected due to lack of proper and thorough product testing. These inherent flaws or errors in a product’s design can pose risk of injury and damage.

A famous case involving defective design is Ford Transmissions Failure to Hold In Park. In 1980s, there was a problem with Ford’s transmissions which let the cars accidentally slip from park to reverse. There were around 6,000 accidents, 1,710 injuries, and 98 fatalities initially reported. Even though Ford maintained that there was no design defect, it did issue warning labels to the owners of the vehicles rather than recalling them for mechanical repairs. By 1982, the total amount of damages claimed in lawsuits raked up to $1.7 billion.

2. Defective Manufacture

Under this type, the product was designed correctly but there was an error or a fault in the making of the product. This error in the manufacturing process can make the product dangerous to use. These flaws are not inherent in the design, but are introduced later during the product’s manufacture or assembly.

Manufacturing defects are comparatively less common than design defects. This is because strict regulatory oversight during manufacturing process limits the number of errors.

More recently, a manufacturing issue was found in Takata’s Mexico facility, which may be the cause of the airbags being ruptured in case of a crash. This has led to Honda recalling 1.2 million vehicles in North America to repair the defective airbags.

3. Inadequate, Missing or Incorrect Warning or Instructions

This defect occurs when the manufacturer fails to inform and properly communicate warnings and instructions pertaining to the product. In this case, the dangers of using a product might not be obvious to the user and the failure on the part of the manufacturer causes injuries or damages.

One of the most popular lawsuits is Philip Morris case. A woman sued the company, claiming that their cigarettes caused her lung cancer. Even though dangers of smoking were known, Philip Morris lost the case as they failed to warn the plaintiff about the risks of smoking. They were ordered to pay a staggering amount of $28 billion along with $850,000 in compensation.  

It is quite possible that a product might cause an injury, not because of any defect but rather due to an error or misuse by the user.

However if you believe an injury or any damage was in fact caused by a defective product, then you can pursue product liability claim. The company that caused your injury or loss should be held accountable. Get in touch with McNicholas Liability Attorneys for expert legal assistance and solutions.

Though it might vary state to state, the product liability law mostly requires you to prove all of the following four elements to win the claim-

  • You were injured or suffered damages.
  • The product is defective.
  • The defect in the product caused your injury.
  • You were using the product as it was intended.
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