A “defective product” is one that causes some injury or damage to a person as a result of some defect in the product, its labeling, or the way the product was used. The manufacturer and others involved in the chain of commerce involving the product that caused the injury are often liable for injuries defective products cause. This liability is known as “product liability.” All states allow some form of recovery to persons injured by “defective products.” “Product liability” cases run from the obvious (a car sold with faulty brakes, a mislabeled product that causes injury) to the not-so-obvious (injury from exposure to tobacco, or harmful side effects from an improperly tested drug).
While the laws applicable to defective product cases vary from state to state, there are three legal theories common to all jurisdictions that can form the basis of a successful product liability case:
- Manufacturing defect.In such cases, the injury was caused as a result of defect in the manufacture of the product. An example would be a bicycle that was built with a small crack in the frame, that breaks when used, causing an injury to the rider.
- Design defect.In these cases the injury was caused by a poor design (even though there may be no defect in the individual product itself). A common example would be a piece of industrial machinery that was built without proper safety devices, and as a result a worker is injured as a result while using the machine.
Failure to warn, or inadequate warning. These cases refer to injuries caused as a result of a product known to be potentially dangerous but was sold without a proper warning to the consumer. An example would be an over the counter drug sold without a warning of the hazards of use with certain other drugs, or excessive consumption, or possible side effects from its use.