If you've been hurt by a product you used, you might have a product liability claim. These claims typically fall into three categories: (1) defective manufacture; (2) defective design; and (3) failure to warn or instruct.
We'll explain each category to help you better understand the kind of product liability claim you might have.
(Find out more about proving the elements of a product liability claim.)
As the name suggests, a defectively manufactured product is flawed because of some error in making it. Maybe a machine used to put the product together wasn't working correctly for a day or two. As a result, some of the products that came off the assembly line suffered from a manufacturing defect. Those products are dangerous when put to an ordinary, expected use.
Examples of manufacturing defects include:
To have a manufacturing defect case, your injury must have been caused by the manufacturing defect.
In a design defect case, a product's faulty design makes it dangerous or defective. A defective design claim alleges that because of some flaw in the way a product was designed, the entire line of products is inherently dangerous. This design problem makes the product unsafe for ordinary use even though it was made according to the manufacturer's specifications.
Examples of design defects include:
In a design defect case, you must show that you were hurt because of the defective design.
Product liability law requires that users of a product must be:
Failure-to-warn claims often involve dangers that aren't obvious to the user, or a product that requires the user to take special precautions or be especially diligent when using it.
Failure-to-warn or failure-to-instruct claims would include:
As with all product liability claims, you bear the burden of showing that your injury was caused by the warning or instruction defect.
Claims involving pharmaceutical drugs are a good way to illustrate the differences between the three types of product liability claims.
Suppose you're injured because a bottle of cough syrup contained a cleaning solvent that accidentally dripped into the bottle during the manufacturing process. You've got a potential manufacturing defect case.
Now, assume that the same brand of cough syrup—but without the cleaning solvent—caused you to suffer a heart attack because of its normal ingredients. That's a possible design defect claim.
Finally, say the cough syrup was made correctly and is generally safe for use. You became ill because you took the cough syrup with aspirin. The label failed to warn that this combination is dangerous. You'll want to look into a failure to warn claim.
As a rule, product liability claims are factually and technically complex and can be difficult to prove. Product designers, manufacturers, and sellers often invest huge sums to bring products to market. There's a lot at stake when a product liability claim gets filed.
There's just no such thing as a simple product liability case. The other side will be represented by an army of lawyers and experts. You need experienced legal counsel on your side, too. Without it, you don't stand much chance of success.
Here's how you can find a product liability lawyer in your area who's right for your case.