Companies have a responsibility to ensure that the products they manufacture, market, and sell are safe for consumers. When companies fail to uphold this responsibility, devastating consequences such as accidents, injuries, and even deaths can occur.
Fortunately, product liability laws allow injured consumers to hold companies that sell unsafe and dangerously defective products accountable for their negligence. If a defectively designed product injured you, you may be eligible for compensation.
Defective Designs Vs. Manufacturing Defects
Generally speaking, product liability cases can be divided into two types: those that involve defects in the design itself and those that are defective as the result of an error in the manufacturing process.
A defectively designed product is one that, due to a flaw in the design, is rendered inherently dangerous or useless for the consumer, and remains so, even if it is manufactured with care using the highest-quality materials. A product with a manufacturing defect is one that, despite having an appropriate design, is rendered hazardous or ineffective due to the use of shoddy materials or a manufacturing mistake like using the wrong screw, bolts, or mechanical components.
Examples of Design Defects
Product design defects can come in a number of forms. Examples of common design defects include:
- Products that are designed for children, but that are unsafe for the intended age group, such as pull cords long enough to cause strangulation or choking hazards in products marketed to toddlers.
- Products that are structurally unstable, such as chairs or tables with uneven leg lengths, or children's play equipment that sways or collapses.
- Products designed to contain dangerous or toxic substances with insufficient closure mechanisms.
- Products that are unreasonably flammable or prone to melting, despite heat being an integral part of its function, such as coffee cup warmers or space heaters that catch fire, or a hairdryer that melts.
- Products with mechanical defects, such as cars with faulty brakes.
Proving a Defective Product Liability Claim
In order to be deemed valid, a product liability claim must meet the following criteria, often referred to as the “elements” of a claim:
- The plaintiff was injured or suffered economic losses. It is not enough for the plaintiff to have noticed the potential for an injury, they must have actually suffered a physical injury or the destruction of property as a result of the defectively designed product.
- The product in question has a design or manufacturing defect. Plaintiffs must show that the danger created by the product's defective design is unreasonable. Products that cause injuries while functioning as intended—such as a sharp chef's knife that, through inadvertent misuse, causes a serious cut— are usually not considered defective.
- The defect was the direct cause of the plaintiff's injuries. The fact that a person was injured while using a defectively designed product does not automatically guarantee that their product liability claim is valid. Plaintiffs must be able to demonstrate that the injury or loss they sustained was the direct result of the defect in the product's design.
- The plaintiff was using the product as intended when injured by it. In many cases, a plaintiff's product liability claim may not be deemed valid if they were injured while using the product in a way the manufacturers did not intend and couldn't have anticipated. For example, if someone tries using a butane torch to pop a bag of microwave popcorn, and is injured in the process, it is highly unlikely the manufacturer of the torch would be held responsible.
Do You Need a Product Liability Lawyer?
If a defectively designed product seriously injured you or someone you love, the experienced product liability attorneys with the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help. You may be able to pursue compensation for your related medical bills, damaged property, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Contact the Morris James Personal Injury Group today to request an appointment for a free initial analysis of your product liability case.