Defective Products

Dangerous or defective products injure thousands of consumers every year. If you purchase a product that simply does not perform as advertised, but causes no physical injury, then you may be covered by a warranty or at the very least you have the option of returning it for a refund or exchange. However, if you have sustained an injury from a defective product then you may have a personal injury claim .

Types of Product Defect Claims

The three main types of product defects are design defects, manufacturer defects, and defects in instructions or warnings. The legal remedy for injuries sustained from a defective consumer product varies from case to case.

Defects in Design

If a product was manufactured as intended and used for its intended purposes causes injury, the manufacturer may be liable for defects in design. Example: A car manufacturer’s designs a break pad that tends to come apart when the brakes are applied under normal driving conditions.

Defects in Manufacturing

Even if a product is well-designed, a manufacturer may be held liable if substandard manufacturing practices or departures from the intended design cause consumers an injury. For example: a run of biscuits becomes contaminated at a processing facility due to substandard manufacturing practices.

Defects in Warnings

A product may still be considered dangerous even if there was no defect in design and it was properly manufactured . A product may be defective “because of inadequate instructions or warnings when the foreseeable risks of harm posed by the product could have been reduced or avoided by the provision of reasonable instructions or warnings by the seller or other distributor…and the omission of the instructions or warnings renders the product not reasonably safe.” In other words, if the manufacturer sells the product without appropriate instructions, then they may be held liable for resulting injuries. Example: A space heater maker fails to inform consumers that the unit prone to overheat and create a fire hazard if left on for more than 12 hours.

Legal Remedies for Defective Products

The two main legal theories for product defect cases are negligence and strict liability:


An injured consumer may collect damages from a liable manufacturer and/or retailer if he or she can prove that the manufacturer breached a duty owed to a plaintiff, that this breach caused an injury, and that the plaintiff suffered actual damages as a result. For example: a bicycle that wasn’t tested properly and loses a wheel, causing serious injury to the rider, would most likely result in a monetary damages award for the plaintiff.

Strict Liability:

Manufacturers are “strictly” liable for product defects occurring during the manufacturing process, regardless of the manufacturer’s level of care. The plaintiff need not prove negligence in order to prevail in a lawsuit against a manufacturer for injuries caused by a dangerous product, as long as the defect resulted from a manufacturing error.

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