When we purchase a product, we presume it will be safe for its intended use. Indeed, many types of products must go through rigorous testing and regulation before they can be sent to market. Still, dangerous products do get into the hands of consumers more often than we’d like to think.
If you have been injured because of a defective product, what can you do about it?
One answer lies with the legal theory of product liability. This allows consumers to recover compensation after they have been injured by a defective product. The theory can be crucial in cases involving a wide variety of products including toys, auto parts, drugs and medical devices.
Types of product defects
The law recognizes three main types of product defects:
- Manufacturing defects: Sometimes a product is designed well, but an issue in its manufacturing makes it unreasonably dangerous.
- Design defects: Some products have a fatal design flaw that makes them unreasonably dangerous as designed. Even if they are manufactured correctly, they will remain unreasonably dangerous to consumers.
- Marketing defects: In some cases, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a product’s design or manufacturing, but some other issue has made it unsafe. For instance, a product might be sold with inadequate instructions that can lead to consumers being injured.
Who is responsible?
Another important point to remember about product liability is that it allows the injured consumer to recover compensation from multiple parties who were involved in marketing the product. Liability can attach to the company that designed the product, the company that manufactured it and/or the companies that distributed it and sold it to the consumer. It’s not necessary, for instance, for the consumer to sue only the manufacturer if they were injured due to a manufacturing defect, or to sue only the designer who caused a design defect.
This is important because it means everyone involved in putting products into the stream of commerce has an incentive to make sure the products are safe. It’s also important because it increases the chances for a plaintiff to recover all the compensation they need and deserve after they have been injured because of a defective product.