When you use a product as intended, you expect it to work as advertised. Any product you buy in the U.S. must meet certain safety requirements and have proper safety warnings. But some products may have defects that pose a danger to consumers even when used correctly.
Some product defects may be harmless, but others can cause significant harm in the form of property damage, personal injury, and even wrongful death. This is especially true when you consider the types of lifesaving products that people rely on every single day – like airbags, medications, medical implants, or commercial airplane components.
But even common consumer products can cause major damage depending on how they fail – for example, exercise equipment, skincare products, kitchen appliances like kettles or pressure cookers, household goods, furniture, and even baby products and children’s toys.
If a defect affects more than one product or in some cases millions of products, that could lead to a product recall or even a class action lawsuit.
In the real world, there are a million ways a product can be defective – it all depends on the specific product and the way you were using it when it failed. But under the law, there are three types of product liability claims when you’re filing a lawsuit for damages.
What Are the 3 Types of Product Defects?
You can file a products liability lawsuit in California if you can show:
- A design defect,
- A manufacturing defect, or
- A defect in marketing, instructions, or warnings.
Generally, you must also show that the product defect led to you suffering actual harm or injury. A lawsuit helps you recover compensation for those injuries and losses.
For example, if your pressure cooker explodes and splatters boiling contents all over you and your kitchen, a personal injury lawsuit could “make you whole” for your losses. Whoever was responsible for the defect that caused the explosion would pay for your medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and any other expenses you experienced.
The statute of limitations, or deadline, for filing a defective product lawsuit in California is 2 years from the date of your injury. If your injury or the product defect is not obvious right away, the statute of limitations starts from the date you should have known about your injury.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you understand your rights.
What Are Examples of Defective Product Cases?
If a core part of a product is unreasonably dangerous, that could be a design defect. A design defect creates a hazard even if the product is manufactured perfectly.
Examples of products with design defects include:
- Furniture made from highly flammable material
- An electrical appliance that melts on the hottest setting
- A top-heavy bookshelf or chest of drawers that easily topples over
- Toys made with small parts that create choking hazards
Meanwhile, manufacturing defects are caused by issues in the manufacturing process that end up creating a product that’s different from its original design. In other words, when the product is manufactured correctly, it’s not unreasonably dangerous.
Examples of products with manufacturing defects include:
- Medication that gets contaminated by a factory issue
- Materials like screws or bolts that are weaker than advertised
- Electronic appliances with crossed or mismatched circuits
- Parts that are improperly attached or missing altogether
In the third category, you have products that are designed and manufactured with no defects, working as intended. However, the product doesn’t come with the proper safety warnings. As a result, users who are unaware of the risks of using the product can get hurt.
Examples of products with defective marketing or insufficient warnings include:
- Cleaning materials that don’t include proper handling instructions
- Over-the-counter cold medication that doesn’t list side effects
- A medical device that comes with inaccurate or illegible instructions
An experienced products liability attorney can help you understand the nuances of your claim and gather the evidence you need to prove your case and get a proper settlement.
How Do You Prove a Product Is Defective?
To win damages in a product liability claim, you must prove that you were using the product as intended when a defect caused you to suffer actual injuries.
The evidence you’ll need to back up your claim will depend on the type of defect.
- If the product has a design defect, you must prove that it poses an unreasonable danger to users even when it’s manufactured perfectly. You could accomplish this by showing a pattern of consumer injury or comparing the product to similar items that don’t have the same design defect and also don’t have the same track record of injury.
- If the product has a manufacturing defect, you must prove that it’s flawed because of an error during the manufacturing process. Compared to other types of defects, this may be simple to prove by comparing the defective product to a non-defective version.
- If the product suffers from a failure to warn, you can prove this defect by showing that an ordinary person would not realize the danger associated with using the product. For example, you would have no way of knowing the side effects of a drug you’re taking unless the pharmaceutical company that manufactures it includes those warnings.
Fortunately, it’s not all on you to prove who caused the defect. After all, you’re just one consumer. It’s the responsibility of product designers, manufacturers, and even retailers to ensure that their products are safe and free of defects.
Can a Defective Product Result in a Lawsuit?
If you suffer injury or property damage because of a defective product, you could file a personal injury lawsuit to get compensation for your damages and losses.
Can a retailer be held liable for defective products? Yes. What about manufacturers? Also yes. It’s not your job to figure out who exactly is responsible for a defective product. As long as you can prove that a product is defective, you can file a claim against anyone who was involved in selling that product. The law prioritizes your well-being first. After you’re taken care of, the product creator, manufacturer, or retailer can fight over who should ultimately be on the hook.
At Sepulveda Sanchez Law, we take defective product cases on a contingency fee basis so that you don’t have to worry about how you’ll afford your case. Click here now to contact our knowledgeable product liability lawyers for a free case consultation.