When you buy products, you have the expectation that they will perform as advertised. If they don’t perform properly, you’re disappointed, of course, but it happens. However, what if an even worse outcome occurs and you or someone you love is injured or damaged? What recourse do you have?
In the U.S. legal system, you have a right to sue for compensation and damages as well as to try to prevent the same thing from happening to others. These are called product liability claims. Here’s a short guide to the three main types of claim.
1. Design Defects
A defect in the design of a product involves the risk of danger while using a product as it was intended to be used. If you buy a car whose steering fails to work when the car is put into reverse, this is a design defect. The car is meant to be driven, and so the design is incorrect. This would likely be considered a foreseeable danger because standard testing would have revealed the steering problem.
Even less obvious events in the product life could be considered a foreseeable danger that should be met with correct design. If, for instance, a toy designed for toddlers can easily break when put into a toddler’s mouth, the action would still be reasonably foreseeable for the manufacturers and designers — because babies are well known to put toys in their mouths.
2. Manufacturing Defects
With a manufacturing defect, the problem isn’t with the design but with the execution of that design. If the steering failure on the above car fails because of a weak part in the system, that could mean that the design was adequate, but the manufacturing was defective.
If the toy above breaks because of faulty plastic on the toy parts, for example, it would be a manufacturing problem rather than an inherently bad design. If the faulty toy parts were recognized earlier but the manufacturer continued to use them, it could include negligence on their part.
3. Failure to Warn
Failing to warn involves two basic components that could cause injury or damage. The first is inadequate instructions. If you have to assemble a table, for instance, and there’s a tricky joint on the legs that could easily break if not done right, you have a problem if the instructions aren’t clear enough to help you avoid the problem.
The second type of failure to warn is commonly seen when side effects or potential interactions aren’t told to buyers. You’re most likely to see this with medicines, food, or beverages that cause health problems customers aren’t warned about in advance.
Cases of failure to warn may even exist when the warning or instruction is technically present. If a normal user wouldn’t have been able to read, to find, or to understand the warning or instructions, there may still be a liability.
For instance, a warning on the bottom of the packaging box may not be adequate if the danger is a toy inside that kids will play with separately. Warnings must be conspicuous — they must be easily identified and interpreted and be where an average person would expect to see them.
Do you think that you may have a liability case regarding a product or service you bought? This type of legal action is likely more complex than most consumers have ever undertaken, so you should consult with an experienced product liability attorney as soon as possible. Producers and sellers have ready access to attorneys, so you need the same level of assistance and protection on your side.
At St. Martin & Bourque , we specialize in all types of product liability and even class action cases. Call today for a consultation.