A broken toy. A faulty fire alarm. Nothing can be manufactured to perfection at all times. But when products aren’t manufactured with precision, it’s customers and employees who often pay the price. In fact, thousands of injuries are caused each year by faulty products, whether that might be a manufacturer error or the fault of the distributor.
If you or a loved one have been injured due to product liability, you may wonder whether or not you have a case. It can seem straightforward, but in reality it may be more complex than you realize.
What is Product Liability?
Product liability refers to legal instances in which an injury is caused by a faulty product. The fault could have occurred at any point in the manufacturing and distribution of the product. It might have been manufactured poorly, marketed in a way that was misleading, broken in shipment, or even had a key design flaw that might lead to accidents. There is a reason why products are meant to be tested and manufactured with precision before they’re put on the market.
If the product was poorly manufactured or broken in shipment, such as a fire alarm that failed to alert you about a fire, it's a product liability. However, a product liability can also occur if the product has been marketed in a misleading way. This may include a commercial that — jokingly — shows someone eating a product that isn’t actually edible, or it could be a failure to warn buyers about a side effect of a product.
In order to be considered product liability, the product will need to have been sold on the marketplace at one point, even if it is no longer. It must also have caused injury or danger to the buyer because of a provable defect. According to strict product liability rules, the manufacturer, distributor/supplier, or designer can be found liable for a defective product even when they made an effort to avoid that defect.
How is Product Liability Related to a Personal Injury Claim?
Product liability might arise in your personal injury claim if your injury was the result of a faulty product. For instance, a problem with your car may have caused a motor vehicle accident. In preparing your personal injury claim, it’s important to determine who was at fault and for what reason. If the reason comes back to a faulty product, you and your product liability attorney can cite product liability in your personal injury claim.
Types of Product Defects That Create Legal Liability
In the case of product liability, however, it’s important to be careful to ensure that the product was actually defective and that this was the actual cause of your injury. Not all types of product defects may lead to legal liability. However, a few types of product defects that often come up in product liability tort include:
Major Manufacturer Defect
A major manufacturer defect occurs when something goes wrong with the manufacturing of a product. Electrical wiring may be poorly installed, bolts might not be fastened correctly, or certain parts might be attached in the wrong order. If sharp edges that are meant to be smoothed are left exposed on a new product, this can potentially cut buyers and lead to injuries. In this case, you might be able to make a claim of product liability.
In some cases, the flaw is in the design of the product. The product might be manufactured exactly as it was designed, but the design itself is a problem. Design defects can often be caught in testing, but if designers do not complete their due diligence, some products may still reach the marketplace proving harmful for buyers. For instance, a product might be made with a material that looks aesthetically pleasing, but is actually very flammable. It may be designed with a cheap but ineffective safety guard. These choices allow designers and manufacturers to cut corners, but can be harmful to consumers.
The fault is not always with manufacturers and designers. It is important for marketing to be as clear and honest as possible. If the marketing of a product makes a false claim which a consumer takes at their word, this could result in injuries. It’s also the job of marketing to warn consumers of any potential risks that might come with the product. A failure to do so would constitute a marketing defect.
Even the instruction manual that comes with products falls under this marketing defect type. For instance, poor instructions on a piece of self-assembled furniture can lead to faulty assembly, which may cause your furniture to fall apart down the line. When this happens, an injury can occur, and that can constitute a product liability.
Economic and Non-Economic Damages
If you suffered an injury due to a faulty product, the first type of compensation you might seek could be economic damages. Medical bills come to mind immediately for most people. Lost wages are also an issue. If your injury causes you to lose time at work, you could be losing some of your financial stability. There’s also the fact that you paid for a product that then injured you.
However, you may also have non-economic damages to consider. Personal injury can take an emotional toll on you, as well. If a faulty product leads to a permanent disability, you may not be able to enjoy all the things you once did. In worst case scenarios, defective products can even lead to fatalities. The loss of a loved one can be crippling emotionally. You may be entitled to emotional or other non-economic damages, as well as economic ones.
Find a Product Liability Lawyer
If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to a defective product, a product liability attorney can help guide you through your case and fight for your rights. Contact The Moore Law Firm today to learn more about how we can help your product liability lawsuit or to schedule a free consultation.