What Constitutes a Defective Product?

Defective Product

There are few things more frustrating than experiencing harm because of a defective product. We, as consumers, put a lot of faith in the companies that sell us the commodities we want and need for our daily lives. Finding out that you (and others) were sold something that is defective, and therefore harmful, can lead to feelings of injustice. Those feelings might lead you to seek compensation from the company responsible for the injury. This is entirely understandable and you should attempt to obtain remuneration if you can. But first, you need to be sure that the product was indeed defective when you used it. There are a number of ways to go about doing this.

Three Kinds

There are three basic kinds of product liability: manufacturing defects, design defects and marketing defects. Manufacturing defects occur during the assembly of the product. This means the manufacturer failed to follow the design properly and thus produced unintended defects. In this case, the entity responsible for the assembly error would be the defendant, as opposed to the person or company owning the patent to the design.

Design Defect

When a product is made harmful due to a design flaw, this is known as a design defect. Whereas manufacturing defects happen at the factory or facility where the product is made, design defects occur when the product is constructed properly. For instance, hernia mesh products are very likely defective in this way. Specifically, studies have indicated that the materials used to build the hernia mesh implants are not adequate to their purpose.

Sadly, medical device defects are relatively common due to regulatory loopholes that allow companies to bypass FDA oversight or minimize the impact of any FDA review. Currently, those loopholes are changing, but it doesn’t seem like they’re being done away with entirely.

Marketing Defects

Marketing defects occur when a company does not sufficiently warn the consumer of the product’s risks. This is one of the many legal theories being employed to hold companies like Purdue responsible for the opioid epidemic.

General Outline of Product Liability Cases

There aren’t really federal product liability laws, meaning state statutes are the name of the game. But generally, these cases follow a consistent formula: A company sells a defective product to a consumer. That consumer properly uses said product properly and, because of the defect, is injured. If it can be shown that the product was defective at the time of the sale and that the defect directly caused the injury, the consumer may have a product liability claim against the company responsible for the flaw.

Strict Liability

Furthermore, some product liability cases are subject to strict liability. This typically applies when the product itself is inherently dangerous and allows the plaintiff to avoid proving that negligence caused the injury.

Initial Questions

Finally, it isn’t always clear which party is responsible. In some case, multiple companies in the supply chain might be liable. The retailer, the various manufacturers and the wholesaler might all be potential defendants in a product liability lawsuit. Additionally, product liability does not just include your average commodity. This type of law extends to real estate, written documents (such as maps), gas products and even pets.

Product liability is not simple. It requires a broad understanding of the laws in your state as well as product liability law and tort law in general. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a skilled product liability attorney who can help you navigate the process of obtaining compensation.

Sean Lally About Sean Lally

Sean Lally holds a BA in Philosophy from Temple University where he also studied theatre for several years. Between 2007 and 2017, he worked as a professional actor for several regional theater companies in Philadelphia, including the Arden Theatre Co., EgoPo Productions, Lantern Theater and the Bearded Ladies. In 2010, Sean co-founded Found Theater Company, an avant-garde artist collective with whom he first started to cultivate an identity as a writer.