Leaders in Law

Types of Product Liability Claims

Product liability law holds manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, and retailers accountable for injuries or damages caused by their products. When a product is defective and causes harm, the injured party’s product liability attorney in Phoenix, AZ can file a product liability claim. These claims generally fall into three main categories: design defects, manufacturing defects, and failure to warn (marketing defects). Each category addresses specific aspects of how and why a product is considered defective and involves unique legal considerations.

Design Defects

A design defect exists when a product is inherently unsafe due to its design. This means that even if the product is manufactured perfectly according to specifications, its design poses a risk of harm. For instance, an automobile model that tends to roll over easily during sharp turns exemplifies a design defect. Similarly, medical devices like hip replacements that break down more quickly than expected under normal conditions and household appliances such as toasters that overheat and catch fire even when used correctly are indicative of design flaws.

In legal terms, proving a design defect can be complex. The plaintiff must often demonstrate that there was a feasible, safer alternative design that could have been used. This alternative must be practical and economically viable. For example, if a car’s rollover tendency could have been mitigated by a slight modification in its design without significantly increasing production costs, this would support a design defect claim. The crux of the argument lies in showing that the inherent risk was avoidable and that the safer design would have prevented the injury or damage.

Manufacturing Defects

A manufacturing defect occurs when there is a flaw in the construction or production process, causing a product that is otherwise designed safely to become dangerous. This type of defect is typically easier to identify because it involves a deviation from the intended design during the manufacturing process. Examples include pharmaceuticals contaminated with harmful substances, smartphones with batteries that explode due to improper assembly, and children’s toys with small parts that detach easily and pose a choking hazard.

In manufacturing defect cases, the plaintiff needs to show that the defect occurred during the manufacturing process and that the defect directly caused their injury. This involves demonstrating that the product did not conform to the manufacturer’s own specifications or quality standards. For instance, if a batch of medication is found to contain impurities that are not present in other batches, it indicates a manufacturing defect. The plaintiff must also establish a direct causal link between the defect and their injury, showing that the harm would not have occurred if the product had been manufactured correctly.

Failure to Warn (Marketing Defects)

Failure to warn claims, also known as marketing defects, arise when a manufacturer does not provide sufficient instructions or warnings about the proper use of the product or potential dangers. This category involves products that are dangerous in a way that is not obvious to the consumer or that require special precautions. Examples include prescription drugs that do not come with adequate warnings about potential side effects or interactions with other drugs, cleaning supplies that lack clear instructions on safe handling and potential hazards, and power tools without warnings about the need for protective gear or instructions on safe operation.

For a successful failure to warn claim, the plaintiff must prove that the lack of warnings or instructions made the product unreasonably dangerous and that this failure directly resulted in the injury. Additionally, it must be shown that the injury would not have occurred had proper warnings been provided. The legal standard often revolves around the “duty to warn,” which requires manufacturers to anticipate potential risks associated with their products and provide adequate warnings to mitigate those risks. This duty extends to foreseeable misuse of the product, meaning manufacturers must consider and warn against possible unintended uses that could lead to harm.

Product liability claims are crucial for protecting consumers and ensuring that products on the market are safe for use. Understanding the types of product liability claims—design defects, manufacturing defects, and failure to warn—is essential for consumers and legal professionals alike. Each category addresses different aspects of product safety and involves distinct legal considerations. By holding manufacturers and other parties accountable, product liability law helps to maintain higher standards of product safety and integrity in the marketplace.