Have you been the victim of a defective product? What to look for.

288093_sAccidents are a part of daily life, and many involve the use of a specific product. Sometimes accidents happen because of carelessness or a failure to follow the instructions or safety warnings listed on the packaging. Not all accidents that occur while using a product are the fault of the user, though. Defective products cause hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries every year. The law typically considers a product defective if its intended use leads to injury or death.

Categories of product liability

The word “product” may call to mind a specific object, but product liability as defined by the legal system also includes items such as fuel, pets and real estate according to Cornell University. The three main ways that companies are liable for the deaths and injuries involve the following:

  • A defect in the manufacture of the product
  • A defect in the design of the product
  • Inadequate warnings or instructions on the hazards or proper use of the product 

Claims for liability are based on the principle that manufacturers have a duty to customers to ensure that no unnecessary harm comes from the use of the product or service. A company that sells the defective product may also be held liable in some cases, if the defect is known before the sale.

Recognizing product defects

When the defect comes from the manufacture of the product, it typically involves a flaw in a lot or single item, such as a crack, a missing part or an extra ingredient. A person injured by the product must prove that the flaw caused the injury rather than the misuse of the product.

A problem with a product’s design will affect the manufacture of all the products. An example of this is a faulty ignition switch on a certain make, model and year of vehicle that causes the car to turn off, lose power to important vehicle functions or deploy the air bags.

Inadequate warnings or instructions involve the way a product is used, and the law holds that the manufacturer is required to produce these in a way that is clear and easy to understand. Any possible dangers and safety procedures must be listed, and the company is required to address any potential safety issues that arise immediately.

When people feel that they have suffered a serious injury because of a defective product, it is a good idea for them to speak with an attorney. The attorney can help them understand their rights and legal options.