Smiley & Smiley, LLP

What's the difference between unsafe and defective products?

Just about everyone has gotten hurt while using a particular product, whether they were burned, cut, bruised or something even worse. After all, people are clumsy and products sometimes break, slip or otherwise lead to an injury. In many cases, people assume it was a fluke accident or the unfortunate result of a bad decision.

While that may be true in most situations, there are times when an injury actually stems from a defective, dangerous product. In some cases, there may be grounds for a product liability claim. However, it is critical to understand that there is a difference between a defective product and an unavoidably unsafe product.

A defective product is improperly designed, made or marketed. It contains a flaw or unreported hazard that puts users at risk.

An unavoidably unsafe product is one that can cause injury, but it is not defective. It is, by nature and by design, a dangerous product.

Let's consider this example to illustrate the difference between these two types of products. Let's imagine you are in your kitchen cooking. If you end up burning yourself when your blender malfunctions and starts a fire, the blender may be defective.

But a stove that causes your burns would not be defective. This is because stoves are designed to get hot enough to cook food. If it didn't get hot enough to burn you, it wouldn't be effective in cooking food. Its primary function makes it unavoidably unsafe.

It isn't always easy to tell the difference between a defective product and an unavoidably unsafe product. Rather than assume the latter, however, it can be wise to discuss an injury-causing incident with an attorney. This legal perspective and guidance can help you assess the situation and determine whether and how to pursue a product liability claim.

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