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The 3 Types of Product Liability Claims you Should Know

Consumers expect that the products they purchase have been vetted for safety and don’t pose an unreasonable risk of harm. This idea is often something that we take for granted, even though defective products can still enter the marketplace and lead to thousands of injuries every single year.

Suffering an injury due to a defective product can be a frustrating and scary experience. These types of injuries are never anticipated, and they often leave one filled with questions. Who was responsible? Who can I turn to for help? Is there anything that can be done?

Fortunately, there are laws and regulations in place that are designed to protect you, the consumer. To help you better understand your potential case, we’ve created this informative guide to the three types of product liability claims you should know.

Product Liability Definition

Product liability refers to “the liability of any or all parties along the manufacturing or distribution chain of any product for damage caused by that product.” The legal definition is used to protect consumers who were injured or killed as a result of a defective product. Sometimes, defective products are unintentionally put on the market, and in other situations, the manufacturer, wholesaler, installer, or retailer was aware of the dangers yet failed to properly notify the public.

As a result, state laws protect consumers in the form of product liability law. The legal rules are different from ordinary personal injury cases and therefore are examined separately in a court of law. Regardless, product liability law helps victims seek justice and compensation for their damages.

Those in the distribution chain are held responsible for their actions based on state law. Most states enforce laws that revolve around negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty. Therefore, manufacturers and suppliers must offer a product that meets the ordinary expectations of a consumer. If a product fails to meet those expectations, it is defective—and can be dangerous.

What Are 3 Types of Product Defects?

In general, there are three types of product defects commonly identified in the United States:

  • Design Defects
  • Manufacturing Defects
  • Inadequate Instructions or Warnings

If you’ve suffered injuries as a result of a faulty product or poor design, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer or supplier. Here is a more detailed breakdown of the three types of product defects.

1. Design Defects

The first type of product liability lawsuit is based on the idea that the product is poorly designed or inherently dangerous. One example might be an SUV that is particularly top-heavy and is at a high risk of rolling over.

These types of claims are not about an aberration in the manufacturing process that caused a mistake—they state that the defect affects an entire line of products and poses a significant danger to anyone else using the poorly designed product.

2. Manufacturing Defects

Manufacturing defects are the most obvious source of product liability claims, and these also happen to be the most common cause of such claims. In these instances, the original design of the product may be completely safe; however, something went wrong during the manufacturing process—and this resulted in an unsafe product.

Essentially, these products may not conform to their original design and, in turn, pose a risk to a small subset of users who may have received this batch of defective products. For example, consider a flawed batch of prescription drugs that has been tainted by some outside material, or a car tire that was compromised and thus prone to blow-out.

3. Inadequate Instructions or Warnings

It is the company’s responsibility to provide instructions on how to safely use or operate their products and to warn about any potential hazards associated with using them. These warnings should be highly visible and are required by law. Some examples of inadequate warnings would be an electric tea kettle that does not warn about the potential for severe burns from an oddly positioned steam valve, or a toxic paint-removing chemical that does not adequately describe safe handling and use.

These types of claims usually involve some type of injury caused by a danger that isn’t obvious to a user or that requires the user to exercise certain precautions while using it.

Is Product Liability Strict Liability?

Product liability concerns a manufacturer or seller that puts a defective product into the hands of the consumer. It includes the manufacture of parts (top of the chain), along with the assembling manufacturer, wholesaler, and retail store owner (bottom of the chain).

Products that contain inherent defects that cause harm to a consumer (or someone who was given the product through an acquaintance) may qualify for product liability lawsuits. Consequently, a plaintiff may sue anyone in the supply chain based on strict liability. However, it’s not the only method by which a claim may get filed, as many product liability cases also cite negligence or breach of warranty.

Strict liability is defined as liability regardless of intent or negligence. This can be considered in product liability because the courts agree that a defendant is liable once the plaintiff proves that the product is defective, regardless of the intent of the defendant. It’s irrelevant whether the manufacturer or supplier exercised great care. Therefore, a contributor to the supply chain may unknowingly release a defective product yet still must be held accountable for their involvement in the matter.

The decision to file a product liability lawsuit based on strict liability depends on your legal representation and their best judgment. The type of claim is based on the jurisdiction where the lawsuit got filed. 

Additionally, you must keep in mind that strict liability is only appropriate if the sale of the product was made in the regular course of the supplier’s business. Therefore, in most circumstances, you cannot file a claim against someone who sold the product at a garage sale or other method of unconventional sale.

How Can You Make a Defective Product Claim?

Defective products are dangerous and result in thousands of injuries every year in the United States. Consequently, your injuries are not “bad luck” or a matter of “being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Often, the manufacturer or supplier wants you to believe that their problems are your fault. But that simply isn’t the case in many incidents.

Victims have options when it comes to making a defective product claim. For starters, you may base your claim on negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty. Secondly, you can sue one or more members of the supply chain which ended with your buying the product and taking it home to use. In many states, the protection extends to include those that borrowed the defective product from someone else, which means you don’t even need to be the person who purchased it to make a claim.

For this reason, product liability claims may target one or more participants in the supply chain:

  • The manufacturer of the product
  • A manufacturer of parts to the product
  • A party that assembles or installs the product
  • The wholesaler
  • The retail store that sold the product to the consumer

Plaintiffs in product liability claims have the option of selecting from the three types of defects to cite as the reason for the personal injuries (design, manufacturing, or marketing defects). However, the plaintiff must prove that the product which caused the injury was defective and made the product “unreasonably dangerous.”

Justice for Your Product Liability Claim

Every product liability claim is different, but if you believe that you’ve suffered an injury from a product, your next step is to speak with an experienced Manhattan defective product lawyer at Greenberg & Stein. We will use our 75 years of combined experience to evaluate the details and merits of your case and help you determine whether you are entitled to receive compensation for the injuries caused by a defective product.

We offer a free consultation and a 24-hour phone line, so don’t hesitate to call us if you’ve been injured by a defective product in New York City. Contact us today at 212-681-2535 to schedule your free legal consultation.