What Are Different Types of Product Defects, and How Do They Affect Your Claim?
What are the different types of product defects and how do they affect your claim? Individuals rely on hundreds of products every day. These goods and materials are necessary to everyday life, from the medications and foods consumed to the beds they sleep in and the cars they drive. Reach out to a product liability lawyer.
Unfortunately, not all of these products are safe, even when used according to the manufacturer’s labeled instructions. According to the National Safety Council, 11.7 million people received treatment in year for injuries consumer products caused.
Among the most common product defects to result in injury were stairs, ramps, landings, and floors; beds, pillows, and mattresses; soaps and detergents. Motor vehicles also can feature defective parts that lead to accidents, with more than 13 million vehicles recalled globally in a recent year due to safety concerns.
When a victim experiences injury due to a defective product, they can seek compensation by filing a claim against the manufacturer’s business insurance policy. Here’s how.
The Types of Product Defects that Can Result in Injuries
As explained by Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, product liability refers to the liability anyone in the manufacturing chain can face for damages caused by one of the three defects. This list includes the product’s manufacturer, the manufacturer of components used in the product, the wholesaler, or the retail distributor.
Although there is no federal product liability law, most states provide victims of product defects with the opportunity to seek compensation for:
- Negligence. This term refers to the careless or reckless actions of someone in the manufacturing chain. An example of a negligent manufacturer would be one who knew there was potential harm with the product and failed to warn product users on the packaging label.
- Strict liability. This term means that the manufacturer is at-fault for an injury that occurred due to a defective product, even if they did not know that the product was defective.
- Breach of warranty of fitness. This concept is a failure of the product to work as stated or implied through product packaging, advertisements, a seller’s professional advice, or a sales contract.
One of the types of product defects that can result in a product liability claim is a design flaw.
This defect occurred in the product’s design and will generally affect all products using the same method.
Some examples of design flaws that result in injuries include:
- A powered appliance that shocks the user when they attempt to power it on.
- Top-heavy SUVs that roll when the driver attempts to take a corner too fast.
- A dresser or shelving system that falls over easily.
- Toys or children’s furniture that contains choking hazards or unreasonable risk of other injuries.
In most states—including Missouri and Illinois—if a claimant files a claim alleging they were injured due to a design flaw, they will be required to prove a defect in the product’s design.
Manufacturing defects occur during the construction or production of the item and generally only affect products produced simultaneously.
Some examples of manufacturing defects include:
- Medications that contain an impurity due to faulty manufacturing processes.
- Processed food items that contain foreign objects, such as glass.
- Using low-quality materials in manufacturing results in the product not holding up or performing correctly.
Based on the amount of news coverage on the subject, manufacturing defects seem common. In reality, manufacturing controls and regulatory oversight often prevent many of these defects and injuries caused by them
Several federal agencies regulate the manufacturing of products sold to U.S. consumers, including:
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the safety of food, drugs, cosmetics, dietary supplements, and medical devices.
- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission regulates other types of products and can—through its authority—also pursue companies producing defective foods and medications through its authority.
In addition to providing safe products when used as intended, manufacturers are tasked with telling the truth about these products and giving clear instructions on their use.
Some of the more common types of marketing defects include:
- The failure of the manufacturer to include on labeled or insert instructions for medications the proper instructions on how to use the product or information about the potential side effects or interactions caused by the product.
- False claims in advertising or on the packaging label about what the product can do.
Who Is Liable When an Injury Occurs Due to a Product Defect?
As noted, anyone in the manufacturing chain can be liable for injuries resulting from a defective product.
To prove liability in the case of a defective product, the claimant must show:
- They used the product as intended.
- The product was defective.
- The defective product caused the injury.
- The injured party suffered expenses and psychological impacts due to their injury.
How Product Liability Claims are Different
The product liability claims process can recover compensation for injuries a product defect caused. This process usually involves first filing a claim against the at-fault manufacturer’s relevant liability insurance policy.
If the insurer fails to pay the claim, the claimant can sue. Failing to file suit before the statute of limitations deadline passes will almost always cause the claimant to lose their claim.
This deadline varies by state. For example, an individual filing a product liability claim in Missouri must file a lawsuit five years from the date of their injury or from when they knew the damage was the result of a defective product. Product liability claimants in Illinois have two years to file a lawsuit.
However, product liability claims feature their types of challenges.
Some of these challenges include:
- The number of people with factually similar claims. Design defects impact all products produced using the same method. Manufacturing defects can affect entire lots, while marketing defects can impact entire product lines. Often, when an injury occurs due to a product defect, hundreds or thousands of other consumers can be affected by the same issue. If many claims are submitted, they can overburden the court system. Product liability claims are often consolidated into class action cases or multi-district litigation to prevent this from happening.
- High-powered companies and high-powered lawyers. Product manufacturers and distributors are often large organizations with the money available to pay for high-powered insurers and lawyers. These insurers and lawyers will protect the company’s financial interests and reputation at all costs, making it very difficult for claimants to obtain the compensation they need.
- Proving that you were using the product correctly when the accident occurred. The evidence needed to establish a product liability claim can be daunting, mainly if there are any openings that the company and its legal counsel find to turn the blame back to the claimant.
- Obtaining the evidence. In any personal injury claim, the defendant often holds the information that the claimant needs to prove the claim, and quick action is required to preserve that evidence to be used at trial.
- The need for expert witnesses. The testimony of medical experts or other professionals is often required to explain scientific evidence and additional information showing the manufacturer’s liability. Expert testimony can be hard to obtain without an attorney with a strong network and resources.
- Difficulty meeting the statute of limitations. When a car accident occurs due to a defective part used on a vehicle, the claimant can generally meet the statute of limitations, as they know the cause of the injury and can determine the source of liability within a relatively short time. However, some defective products produce harm that isn’t discovered for months or even years after the fact
The Role of an Attorney in a Product Defect Claim
An experienced product liability attorney is a must-have when it comes time to seek compensation for your injuries through the personal injury claims process. They understand the process and have the experience necessary to stand up to corporations and their lawyers and to gather the evidence and witness testimony needed to prove the claim.
Here is a look at some of the services an attorney can provide.
- Determining liability and insurance. It can be difficult for a consumer to know who to file the claim against, and some cases even warrant lawsuits filed against multiple parties. An attorney can investigate your claim in-depth to find all sources of liability and the liability insurance policies they hold that can be used to provide compensation for your claim.
- Determining a value to the claim. The claim’s worth is based on the expenses you incurred for medical treatment and the amount of time you missed from work due to your injury. It also includes the harmful psychological damage you incurred because of the injury and the likelihood of permanent injuries that will require a lifetime of treatment and represent a loss in earning capacity.
- Communicating with the at-fault party’s insurer on your behalf. To protect your claim from being devalued by insurance company tactics and to work on negotiating a settlement that provides you with fair compensation, the lawyer should be the one to do the negotiations.
- Helping you to understand how your claim is valued. This service includes providing the information you need to make informed decisions about your case, such as accepting an offered settlement.
- Preparing your case for trial. The lawyer ensures that your right to use the court system when seeking compensation remains intact by filing your lawsuit within the state’s statute of limitations. These tasks include deposing witnesses, arranging for expert testimony, filing and responding to motions, and attending pre-trial conferences.
- Providing you with additional information and assistance if there is a class action involving the product that caused your injury. The lawyer can also help if your case is part of a multi-district litigation.
- Litigating your case if it remains unresolved when the trial date arrives. It is essential to understand that settlements are the most common resolution for personal injury claims, including those involving product defects. Settlements can be made anytime from when the claim is filed until a judge makes a decision.
- Assisting you in receiving the compensation awarded by settlement or a court decision.
Because product liability attorneys generally work on a contingent fee basis, you do not have to pay upfront for their services or worry about being billed by the hour every time your legal team does any work on your case. Instead, you enter an agreement with the attorney who designates a percentage of the money you receive as payment for services rendered. This provides you with quality legal assistance regardless of your financial status. The contingency method also means you don’t pay unless your claim succeeds. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.
You have nothing to lose. Contact an experienced product liability attorney to handle your defective product claim as soon as possible.