In a world filled with a wide variety of products, from electronics to kitchen appliances and everything in between, there’s an implicit trust that the items we purchase will be safe to use. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. When defective products hit the market, they can cause harm, injury, or even death to people just going about their daily lives.
What legal duties and responsibilities do manufacturers have in these cases? After all, they’re part of a chain of people involved in bringing a dangerous product onto the market, including product designers, wholesalers, retailers, and transportation companies. If you get injured, can you get compensation through a legal claim? Can you sue the manufacturer for their part?
Generally, the answer in California is yes. If you get injured by a defective product, you can file a claim against anyone involved in bringing that product to consumers. As long as you get the financial compensation you need to recover and move forward with your life, the responsible parties can battle against each in court other over who has ultimate liability.
What Is a Manufacturing Defect?
A manufacturing defect is a flaw in a product that occurs because of an error during the manufacturing process. Essentially, the product ends up getting made in a different way than what the manufacturer intended. They may not even realize that the product is defective.
Manufacturing defects can take many forms. For example:
- Automobile defects such as faulty brakes or brake lines, defective airbags that fail to deploy properly, engine assembly errors leading to overheating or fires, or faulty steering components that cause drivers to lose control
- Electronics and appliance defects such as malfunctioning power cords or plugs, overheating batteries or chargers, or circuit board soldering defects
- Medical device and pharmaceutical defects such as contaminated medical implants, toxic materials in prosthetics, or medication packaging errors such as incorrect dosages
- Children’s toys and products that break off and pose a choking hazard or contain toxic substances like lead that can lead to long-term exposure
- Furniture and household items like loose or missing screws and fasteners, chairs or couches with unstable frames, or items labeled for the wrong weight rating
- Malfunctioning industrial equipment that can lead to defective welds on structural components or faulty safety switches or controls
- Power tools and machinery with misaligned blades or electrical issues
- Sporting goods with weak materials that cause equipment failure (such as climbing gear) or flaws in the design or manufacturing of bicycle components
- Household chemicals and cleaning products with leaky or defective containers or incorrectly mixed or labeled cleaning solutions
- Cosmetics and personal care products such as contaminated or improperly mixed makeup or skincare products, or mislabeled products
- Firearms with manufacturing errors in the barrel or chamber or flaws in the firing mechanism that lead to accidental discharges
Not all product defects are manufacturing defects. In some cases, someone else along the chain of production could actually be responsible for a defective product.
How Is a Manufacturing Defect Different Than Other Types of Defects?
Manufacturing defects typically happen at the factory or production facility and are not a part of the product’s design. In other words, the product may have been designed safely, but an error during the production process made it unsafe. The defect is unintentional.
On the other hand, a design defect is an inherent flaw in the product’s blueprint that makes it inherently unsafe, even when manufactured correctly. While a manufacturing defect may affect a single batch of a product, design defects usually affect every unit of a product.
In the case of a design defect, the manufacturer may not actually be the one legally responsible. If you sue the manufacturer, then the manufacturer can in turn sue the product designer to put responsibility where it actually belongs. As the person injured by the product, you don’t have to worry about figuring out who exactly caused the defect.
What Is a Marketing or Failure to Warn Defect?
Even if a product is designed and manufactured perfectly, it can still be “defective” if it is marketed incorrectly, doesn’t have the proper instructions to help consumers use it safely, or fails to warn users about the potential risks of using the product.
Imagine purchasing a household cleaner that did not disclose all of the chemicals it contains on the label. You end up mixing that cleaner with another product and the combination turns into something harmful and toxic that causes you to go to urgent care.
Who is actually responsible for a marketing defect depends on the specific facts of the case. Legal responsibility may belong to the product designer or even the retailer if they’re responsible for the packaging. If you’ve been hurt by a defective product, an experienced product liability lawyer can help you determine what kind of defect caused your injuries.
Are Manufacturers Liable for Defective Products?
If you were hurt by a manufacturing defect, then you could hold the manufacturer of that product liable for your injuries – your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Who is ultimately liable depends mostly on the type of defect that hurt you.
In some cases, the manufacturer could be 100% responsible. In other cases, the real responsibility may belong to the product designer or retailer – or multiple companies may share the responsibility together. A little bit of fact-finding by an experienced product liability lawyer can help you decide how to proceed in a way that makes sure you’re covered.
How Does Strict Liability Work in Product Liability Cases?
When you file a product liability lawsuit in California, manufacturers and other companies are held strictly liable for injuries caused by their products. That means you don’t have to worry about proving negligence, which can make a case more complicated. All you have to do is prove that a product was defective and that the defect caused your injuries.
Your safety matters – and holding manufacturers accountable for defective products is an essential part of ensuring that consumers are protected from harm. Whether you’ve been hurt by a manufacturing defect, a design flaw, or a failure to warn, understanding your rights and the responsibilities of manufacturers can help you seek justice.
Manufacturers should be held to high standards when it comes to product safety – and you have the right to seek compensation when those standards are not met. Click here to schedule a free consultation with our experienced legal team about your case.