What Are the Three Types of Product Defects?

Defective products can lead to serious injuries when unsuspecting consumers use them as they are meant to be used. This should never happen; in fact, product designers, manufacturers, and distributors have a legal responsibility to ensure that their products are reasonably safe for normal, typical use. However, defective products make it onto the market and into the hands of ordinary people with alarming frequency.

But what exactly makes a product defective? How can you tell if an accident—and, therefore, your injuries—stemmed from a faulty product? Does an unsafe design make a product defective? For most people, the answers to these questions are not immediately obvious.

We invite you to continue reading to learn more about what makes products defective, as well as the three types of product defects. If you suspect that your injuries or the death of your loved one was the result of a defective or unreasonably dangerous product, contact Metzger Wickersham for a free and confidential consultation with one of our product liability lawyers in Pennsylvania. We can walk you through your legal options and inform you of your rights in accordance with state product liability laws.

What Makes Products Defective?

In the simplest terms, a product is defective when it poses an unreasonable risk to those who use the product as it is intended to be used. This is not to be confused with a product that is inherently dangerous; a chainsaw is not necessarily defective just because it could cause someone harm, but it could be defective if it is missing a safety guard or warning labels.

There are three main types of product defects; a broad range of defective products could fall under one or more of these categories. The three types of product defects are outlined below.

Design Defects

A design defect occurs when the actual design of the product is faulty. Design defects affect entire product lines, rather than a single unit or batch. A fairly common example of a design defect is a sport utility vehicle (SUV) that is prone to rolling over due to a high center of gravity. Other examples include auto tires that “blow out” or shred at certain speeds, household clothes dryers that get too hot and start fires, or airbags that fail to inflate when an impact occurs.

Manufacturing Defects

In contrast to design defects, manufacturing defects only affect certain units or batches of a product, rather than all products in a line. This is because manufacturing defects involve errors or contamination that occurs during the production phase. Common examples include an error in manufacturing that results in an automobile seatbelt missing a critical component that allows the seatbelt to “lock” into place or a batch of pharmaceutical medication that becomes contaminated during production when pieces of metal from machinery gets into medication bottles prior to them being sealed.

Labeling Defects

A labeling defect is somewhat different than both design and manufacturing defects in that the product itself is not necessarily faulty, but it lacks critical warning labels and/or instructions, making it unreasonably unsafe for normal use. An example of a labeling defect includes pharmaceutical medications that lack warnings about drug interactions or fail to list all possible side effects. Other fairly common examples include power tools and other machinery/equipment that does not have safety instructions, children’s toys that lack choking hazard warnings, and electronic devices that fail to warn consumers of possible electric shock risks.

What to Do If You Were Injured by a Defective Product

If you believe you were injured by a defective product, or if you believe that an accident was caused by a product with a faulty design, manufacturing defect, or missing warning/instruction labels, you are likely wondering what your options are for recovery. If a defective product was, in fact, to blame for your injuries and resulting damages, you have the right to hold the liable party legally responsible for your losses. This means you can seek compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages from the designer, manufacturer, or distributor of the product (depending on the type of defect it had).

In Pennsylvania, product liability cases fall under one of several theories:

  • Strict Liability: If the entity that created or sold the product is strictly liable, you can hold them accountable for your damages regardless of fault. This means that you do not need to show that any person or party acted negligently in order to bring a claim.
  • Negligence: To bring a claim under the legal theory of negligence, you must prove that another party—typically the entity that designed, created, manufactured, or sold the defective product—was somehow negligent or acted wrongfully and that this led to your injuries and damages.
  • Breach of Warranty: To bring a claim under breach of warranty, you will need to show that the liable entity breached an expressed or implied warranty, meaning the product did not work as it was advertised, marketed, and/or intended.

How Our Firm Can Help

While you may have the legal right to recover compensation after being injured by a defective product, actually doing so is rarely easy. Product manufacturers and distributors often have massive legal teams that are ready to fight back against product defect claims and work to protect the brand’s reputation. It is not uncommon for plaintiffs’ claims to be disputed or denied. However, this does not mean that you are barred from seeking compensation if you truly were injured by a defective product.

Working with an experienced legal team of your own can make all the difference in the outcome of your claim. At Metzger Wickersham, our product liability lawyers have extensive experience in this area of law, and they can assist you in seeking the full, fair recovery you are owed. We have helped countless individuals throughout the state of Pennsylvania in complex product defect claims and have secured numerous favorable results; contact us today to learn how our team can help you with your claim.

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