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Can You Sue for a Defective Product?

June 9, 2019

The law of product liability involves a dangerously defective product that is placed into the hands of a consumer who is then injured by or even killed from that product. Some examples of dangerously defective products might be a hammer that explodes when being used to pound a nail, a step ladder that collapses when a person is on it, handbag, waist trainers, air bag or seat belt failure in a car crash, power tools that electrocute users or even prescribed pharmaceutical drugs that injure or kill legal users.

Who Can Be Held Liable Under Product Liability Law?
Any entity or person who is in the chain of distribution of a product might be held liable for damages if the product injures or kills a user. Those entities or people include the following:

  • Designers.
  • Manufacturers.
  • Parts assemblers or installers.
  • Distributors.
  • Wholesalers.
  • Retailers.

Types of Product Liability Claims
If a victim is going to make a product liability claim, there are three types of dangerous defects that a victim can raise. Those are design defects, manufacturing defects and marketing defects. 

Design Defects
Issues involving a design defect arise at the conceptualization, drawing and blueprint stage. Upon a showing of a defective design, the claimant must also show am alternative design that would be safer than the initial one. It must also be economically feasible and as practical. When a design defect occurs, all products in the line are dangerously defective.

Manufacturing Defects
These are departures from the original planning and design of a product that occur during the production process. Regardless of whether all possible care and caution was exercised, if a poorly manufactured product left the plant and caused injury when used for its intended purposes, the manufacturer can be held liable. When a manufacturing defect occurs, only a few products in the line are dangerously defective.

Marketing Defects
A failure to warn a consumer of a dangerous characteristic of a product might also support a product liability lawsuit. Although seen less frequently than design or manufacturing defect litigation, a marketing defect can be shown by proving the following:

  • A foreseeable risk of harm by the product’s seller at the time of marketing the product.
  • A failure to warn the consumer or user that causes the product to be unreasonably dangerous.
  • The consumer or user’s injury was caused by the failure to warn.

Defenses
If a design defect, manufacturing defect or failure to warn is proved, anybody in the chain of distribution can be held strictly liable. The words “strict liability” might be a misnomer though. Defenses to strict liability product cases do exist. Here are a few of them:

  • The claimant used the product in a way that it was not intended to be used. For example, the injured claimant used a pair of pliers to pound a nail, and the pliers exploded and injured the claimant.
  • The claimant’s own carelessness and negligence in using the product either contributed to or caused the injury.
  • Somebody else interacted with the claimant during the use of the product, and that individual was the cause of the injury.

Yes indeed, you can sue a product’s manufacturer and a number of other entities or individuals for your injuries or the death of a family member as a result of the use of a product. Aside from design defects, manufacturing defects and marketing defects, other causes of action like negligence and breach of warranty also exist. Before pursuing anything, you’ll want to speak with an attorney who focuses their practice on product liability.

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