What are the Different Types of Product Liability Claims?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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If someone is injured by a defective product, there are three types of product liability claims that may apply to their case: (1) defective manufacture, (2) defective design, and (3) failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions regarding how to properly use the product. Knowing the basics of these three product liability claims will help an injured person determine if they have a valid case.

Manufacturing Defect Product Liability Claim

This type of product liability claim is appropriate if an injury is caused by a problem with how the product was made. Essentially, the product that causes the injury is somehow different than all the identical products of its type being sold. For example, a bicycle was built with a small crack in the frame, which breaks down when the consumer rides it, injuring them. A person who feels that they may have a defective product claim based on a manufacturing defect must be sure to evaluate their behavior honestly. If the bike had a crack in the frame, but the victim was injured when she swerved off the sidewalk in rainy conditions, the crack in the frame may not have been the cause of her injury.

Design Defect Product Liability Claim

In this type of products liability, the product’s design was flawed. Defective design product liability claims do not involve an error in the manufacturing of the product, rather the design of the entire line of products was inherently dangerous, regardless of the fact that the product which caused injury was perfectly manufactured. Some examples of defectively designed products could be:

  • Airbags that are not thick enough to absorb the impact of a collision.
  • Sun block that does not adequately protect a person from the sun.
  • Riding lawnmowers with blades that do not immediately stop spinning when the machine is stopped by the operator.

As with manufacturing product liability claims, a plaintiff must show that their injury was caused by the defective design itself. For example, if a person is driving a car that is prone to swerving due to its design and they are injured when the car is rear-ended by another vehicle, they will not have a products liability claim for defective design since the defect making the car swerve was not the cause of their injury.

Failure to Provide Adequate Warnings/Instructions Product Liability Claim

If someone is injured by a product, and the product did not come with strong enough warnings or instructions regarding how to use it safely, they may have a products liability claim for failure to warn. Failure to warn product liability claims arise when a product is dangerous in a way that is not obvious to the consumer, or the consumer needs to exercise extra care in order to properly use the product that is not mentioned in the instructions. An example of this type of product liability claim would be if someone purchased an over-the-counter drug that lacked a warning on the hazards of using it with certain other drugs, and was injured when they combined it with other medication.

Whether you were the victim of a defectively manufactured or defectively designed product, or the product that injured you posed an unnoticeable risk that you were not warned about, you should consult an experienced product liability attorney immediately.

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