Product liability claims are some of the most clear-cut cases for an attorney to handle. Defective product cases are strict liability cases which means that it’s not necessary to prove intent. In other words, it doesn’t matter if the manufacturer of a faulty product had the best intentions. If the product had a flaw that caused an injury, the case is ripe for litigation.
There are, however, at least three different grounds for a strict liability case when it comes to a defective product: design defects, manufacturing defects, and bad marketing.
Design defects mean that the product was improperly designed to do the job that it was supposed to do. It could be that the products weren’t properly tested, which means all the existing products would be recalled.
Depending on whether the injury caused by the product was minor, the case might reach civil court as a class-action lawsuit that involves multiple injured users of the product.
Design errors include products that don’t take foreseeable dangers into account — such as an SUV that rolls over too easily or a medical implant that breaks down in the body.
The legal guidelines for determining a design flaw vary from state to state, and some states accept the premise that a safer and affordable alternative option was available as proof of a design defect.
Cases based on manufacturing defects might be more limited in the scope of any recall because the product was well designed, but something went wrong during the manufacturing process. Usually, not all products are affected, and tracing lot numbers may limit the number of recalled products.
Sometimes, manufacturing defects can be traced back to a single product. An example would be an automobile manufacturer that erroneously a set of brakes on the assembly line. The faulty brakes caused a severe accident, and the manufacturer can now be held strictly responsible.
Bad marketing might be a misleading term because most people don’t consider instructions and warning labels as a part of marketing, but that’s the legal term. Failing to warn customers of the potential operating hazards and the correct way to use a product is considered improper marketing. If the manufacturer doesn’t provide adequate warning labels and clear instructions to help people avoid injuries, the company could be held liable for any accidents that harmed people.
Generally, manufacturers aren’t held liable for obvious hazards. For example, gun manufacturers aren’t required to warn customers that pointing the gun at someone and pulling the trigger could result in that person’s injury or death. Manufacturers are not held liable for failing to warn that knives are sharp or that you could fall from a ladder either.
A Fourth Way to Claim Compensation in a Product Liability Case
If a product comes with a written warranty, you might be able to claim a breach of warranty. You could find warranty information in the original paperwork, operating manual, or advertising.
In Pennsylvania, for instance, some of the requirements of breach of warranty claims include:
- Breach of implied warranty is valid in Pennsylvania, which is assumed in certain cases — such as the implied warranty of habitability for home building.
- The implied warranty of merchantability frequently applies to items that should operate as intended.
- Implied warranties could be valid when a merchant knows a particular customer’s needs and recommends a solution.
- Breach of warranty claims are often made in tandem with product liability claims or negligence claims.
A Pittsburgh personal injury lawyer can help you file a breach of warranty claim and get a full refund plus damages award if the product has hurt you or a dependant. However, breach of warranty claims are quite rare, and an experienced lawyer will likely gently nudge you into pursuing a defective product claim on more common grounds, like design flaws or manufacturing defects. The latter also have higher odds of success.
With a law degree under his belt and years of experience, Mark Scott set off to make the law more accessible to all. He decided to help people lost in the maze of legal terminology to find their way. Mark writes clear and concise pieces and gives simple advice that is easy to follow. On account of positive feedback from readers, he decided to dedicate more of his time to this goal and became a legal columnist. In his writings, Mark covers a wide array of topics, like how to seek legal counsel, or how to deal with different procedures. Furthermore, he directs his readers toward other trustworthy resources for more in-depth information.