If you’ve been injured by a defective product and are wondering if you have grounds for a lawsuit, our intention in this article is to clarify your way forward without wasting your time.
There are 3 main areas of defective products law:
Failure to warn
Any lawsuit you pursue regarding defective products will need to fall into at least one of these categories to be successful. (Sometimes a case involves multiple of these areas, which strengthens the claim.)
Let’s review each of these areas in greater detail.
Manufacturing Defects Lawsuits
A lawsuit based around manufacturing defects is valid any time we can demonstrate that there was a specific flaw or defect in the product you bought that caused injury.
This can include situations where a safety mechanism failed, or if that particular product was packaged with missing parts that were required for it to be safe.
This can also include cases where electronics have faulty connections and cause electrocution or burns.
Note that it has to be clear that the defect is the fault of the manufacturer and that the defect has caused harm. There has to be damage done in order to establish what fair compensation would be.
Design defects involve cases where it’s clear the very design of the product itself was the source of the malfunction. In other words, the product was never going to be safe such as it is.
One big caveat for a design defect angle is that we must be able to demonstrate a viable alternative. For instance, if we’re arguing that the design is flawed and that the manufacturer should have known better, there needs to be a clear example of a similar product that works better -- without the flaw.
This can include cases where corners were clearly cut, where competitive products that are better built have not hurt anyone, but this particular product did not include those safety measures.
This category of product defects is where you hear about recalls, where it becomes clear that aspects of the product had inherent flaws from the start that need to be corrected. One simple example is the Toyota recall years ago where the accelerator stuck and drivers couldn’t stop while on the highway.
They were quick to offer a fix to the problem, but anyone who was seriously hurt from that certainly would’ve had a legal claim.
Failure To Warn
This type of product defect case comes into play when:
There were some use cases where the product could be dangerous, but the product packaging and manuals do not properly warn against that type of usage.
Breach/failure in warranty - This is when the specific claims made by the product’s marketing are proven false by a defect, such as when a product claims it’s safe to use in a certain circumstance when in fact it fails in that very circumstance.
An example of failure to warn is a case we worked on that involved a resistance exercise band, the kind you put in a door frame or stand up for arm exercises. The client stepped on the band per the instructions, but the instructions didn’t show a ball that was in the middle of the band. It wasn’t clear whether the ball could be removed or if it should be for that type of exercise, and the client assumed that meant one should stand on it along with the rest of the band.
That resulted in a serious injury where the band slipped out from under her feet, shot up, and hit her in the face.
In that case, we were able to demonstrate that the instructions failed to properly warn users about relatively simple ways the product could be incredibly dangerous.
An example of the breach of warranty is a case where a client was using an exercise ball to lay on while bench pressing. Many exercise balls are not strong enough for that sort of thing, but this particular exercise ball explicitly described itself as safe for that exercise.
Yet when the client used it as such, the ball burst and caused him to fall to the floor with the weight, breaking numerous bones.
Since the claims made on the packaging specifically implied a user could do that exercise when it clearly couldn’t, it was a viable breach.
The caveat for this type of failure to warn is that the customer uses the product as intended and not in a way the manufacturer could point at as outside the obvious and acceptable use of the product. In the above example, the client used the ball exactly as the product was intended.