What is a product defect?
Product defect refers to a body of law that provides consumers the right to sue manufacturers when a product fails to perform as intended. Every day, millions of consumers across the nation place their confidence in manufacturers when they purchase the various products they need to survive. Unfortunately, for far too many consumers, this confidence is betrayed when the product fails to perform as expected, and the consumer suffers serious injury or even death. When this happens, the law allows the injured consumer to bring a personal injury claim against the manufacturer to recover the compensation they are entitled to under the law. These claims are brought on behalf of the injured victim by lawyers that focus their practice on product liability litigation.
Three types of defective product claims
With the general concept in mind, we can begin exploring the various product liability claims available to an injured consumer. Generally, a product can be defective in its design, manufacturing, or marketing. A product proven to be defective in any of these three areas provides an injured person a basis for recovery against a manufacturer.
Products defective in design
A product is defective in its design when it is defective in the condition the manufacturer intended the product to be produced. In other words, a defective design means the manufacturer designed and manufactured a product that is unreasonably dangerous for its intended purpose. Examples of common design defects include:
- Baby products that contain unnecessary chocking or strangulation risks
- Safety equipment such as car seats that fail to provide adequate protection
- Medical devices that fail to treat or exasperate the injury or condition
- Defective parts in appliances, vehicles, and tools
A claim against a manufacturer for a design defect alleges that all products of the same type produced by the manufacturer are unreasonably dangerous. As you would expect, successfully proving a design defect often leads to nationwide recalls. In that sense, bringing a claim against a manufacturer for a design defect protects all consumers by removing dangerous products from the market and warning other consumers of potential dangers inherent in the product’s use.
Products defective in manufacturing
Unlike a design defect that focuses on the product’s design, a manufacturing defect focuses on the production of the product. To distinguish between a manufacturing defect and a design defect, you can simply ask yourself whether the product would have caused the same injury if it were produced exactly as the manufacturer intended it to be made. If the injury only resulted because the product varied from its intended design, it is a manufacturing defect.
Examples of common manufacturing defects include:
- Tires produced with inferior material
- Foods and medicines produced with contaminated ingredients
- Bolts, pipes, and fasteners improperly threaded
- Mechanical equipment improperly assembled
- Electrical equipment with faulty circuits
You may have noticed from the list of common manufacturing defects; inferior quality control standards often lead to manufacturing defects. Thus, while a manufacturing defect claim alleges only the injury-causing product was defective, these defects often affect all products produced simultaneously. For instance, a tire made with contaminated rubber will be just one of many other tires built from the same defective compound. Uncovering a manufacturing defect puts the manufacturer on notice of the product’s defective condition and helps remove all affected items from the marketplace.
Products defective in marketing
The third type of defective product is a product that lacks the warning or instruction necessary to use the product as intended. This type of defect is often referred to as a failure to warn. For instance, producing infant Tylenol without dosing instructions would lead to serious injuries and death to unsuspecting infants. Likewise, producing a pressure cooker without handling instructions would undoubtedly lead to serious burns. Examples of marketing defects include:
- Advertisements that encourage the improper use of the product
- Medicine without proper dosing instructions
- Medicine without warning of potential side effects
- Cleaning supplies without handling instructions
- Cooking appliances without handling instructions
A manufacturer must provide consumers with instructions and warnings on dangers inherent in a product’s use. Failure to do so may subject the manufacturer to liability for the harm sustained by the consumer.
Defective product liability
All personal injury law has the same goal: compensate an injured victim for the injuries sustained by another party’s actions. How this is accomplished depends on the type of claim the injured party brings. The most common claim in personal injury law is negligence. In a negligence claim, the focus of the claim is on the wrongdoer's actions, and the injured party can only recover by showing the wrongdoer’s actions fell below a reasonable standard of care. For instance, holding your neighbor’s toddler liable for smashing your finger in the car door is much more difficult than holding the cab driver responsible for doing the same thing. Thus, under the law of negligence, an injured victim will only recover monetary compensation for injuries caused by actions the law deems negligent.
On the other hand, under the law of product liability, the wrongdoer’s actions are irrelevant. A manufacturer that spends billions on research and development, hires the industry’s best engineers, implements the most robust quality control standards, and uses only the finest materials, is still responsible for injuries caused by a product that is proven defective.
To prove a product is defective, the injured party must show the following:
- The product is defective
- The product’s defect caused the injury complained of
- The product was being used as intended
While the path to recovery under a product liability claim differs from that of a claim of negligence, the ultimate recovery is the same.
What compensation is available in a product defect claim
The exact recovery you may be entitled to will depend on the specific law of your state. At the Ammons Law Firm, we represent clients nationwide and can help you understand exactly what you can recover. However, those injured by a defective product are generally entitled to economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages caused by a defective product
The purpose of a personal injury lawsuit is to put the injured party in the position they were in before the injury. To do this, the defendant must reimburse the injured victim for all expenses resulting from the injuries caused by the defective product. These out-of-pocket expenses are known as economic damages.
Economic damages include:
- The cost of medical care received
- The cost of future medical care needed
- Lost wages due to the injury
- Loss of future earning capacity caused by the injury
- The cost of home alterations or assistance
- Other out-of-pocket costs associated with the injury
The Ammons Law Firm has helped thousands of consumers recover damages from manufacturers for injuries caused by defective products. If a product has injured you, our team will help you identify all costs associated with your injuries and ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to under the law.
Non-economic damages caused by a defective product
Non-economic damages are the intangible harm caused by a defective product and focus on the mental and emotional pain resulting from your injuries. With non-economic damages, the law seeks to rectify your emotional and mental suffering by quantifying the monetary value of your injury. As you can imagine, this is extremely difficult and requires skilled advocacy.
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotion and mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of personal relationship
Working with a skilled attorney is essential to maximize your recovery of non-economic damages. Since these damages are not readily quantifiable, manufacturers are often unwilling to pay these damages without a fight. At the Ammons Law Firm, we understand the personal impact an injury has on your life and are very good at holding large corporate defendants responsible for the suffering you have experienced and will continue to experience as a result of your injuries.
When to contact a product defect attorney
Product defect law is a very complex area of law that requires the assistance of skilled attorneys. If you believe a defective product injured you, consulting an attorney will be in your best interest. Proving a product is defective requires substantial resources and relationships with industry experts trained in engineering and technology. Most personal injury firms are not equipped with the skill and resources needed to handle these cases. At the Ammons Law Firm, we have been litigating complex product defect cases for over thirty years and have a proven track record of success. We have secured over $1 billion for clients across the nation and have helped thousands of people like you receive the compensation they deserve.
When you need a law firm that you can trust and a team that you can count on, you call the Ammons Law Firm.