Defective Product Liability Claims

Philadelphia Injury Lawyer discusses types of Defective Product Liability Claims

If you have been injured or suffered damages because of a defective product you used, you may have a defective product liability claim.  The range of defective product liability claims is broad, although claims typically fall into three categories of defective product liability claims:

  1. Defective Manufacture
  2. Defective design
  3. Failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions concerning the proper use of the product.

Understanding the three categories will help you to determine whether you have a valid claim, as well as the strategy to use in presenting your case.  In all cases, claims must show not only that the product was defective, but that the defect caused damage or injury.

Defectively Manufactured Product Liability

The most obvious type of product liability claim is when the injury-causing product was defectively manufactured. A defectively manufactured product is flawed because of some error in making it, such as a problem at the factory where it was fabricated.  As a result, the injury-causing product is somehow different from all the other ones.

Examples of a Manufactured Defective Product Liability:

  • a swing with a cracked chain
  • an incorrectly compounded drug
  • a defective gas tank, seat belt, or air bag

Defectively Designed Products

Defectively designed products are products whose design is inherently dangerous or defective.  Defective design claims involve the claim that an entire line of products is inherently dangerous, regardless of the fact that the injury-causing product was perfectly made according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Examples of a Defectively Designed Product Liability:

  • a particular model of car that has a tendency to flip over while turning a corner
  • a type of sunglasses that fail to protect the eyes from ultraviolet rays
  • a dangerous or defectively designed child toy

Failure to Provide Adequate Warnings or Instructions

Failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions about the product’s proper use or failure-to-warn claims typically involve a product that is dangerous in some way that’s not obvious to the user or that requires the user to exercise special precautions or diligence when using it.

Examples of a Failure-to-warn Product Liability:

  • A cough syrup that does not include on its label a warning that it may cause dangerous side effects if taken in combination with another commonly taken drug.
  • A paint-removing chemical that is sold without adequate instructions for safe handling and use.
  • Knowingly serving coffee at 180 degrees Fahrenheit and failing to warn customers that the temperature could cause third degree burns if spilled.

Common Theories of Product Liability

Negligence: Where negligence is alleged, the plaintiff must demonstrate that:

  • The parties responsible for placing the product into commerce had a duty to provide goods fit for their foreseeable uses;
  • Those parties would have detected the defect(s) alleged by the plaintiff with the exercise of reasonable care in the design, manufacture, or inspection process;
  • Those parties failed to fulfill its duty to exercise reasonable care; and
  • While engaged in a foreseeable use of the product, the plaintiff was injured by the product as a result of the defect.

Strict Liability: Where strict liability applies, the plaintiff need only establish that a product is defective.  Once the defect has been established, liability results from that fact alone no matter how much care the defendant applied during design, manufacture, marketing, distribution and sale of the product.

Breach of Warranty:  A warranty claim is more correctly a contract claim, and not a product liability claim.  Warranty claims allege contract between a manufacturer or vendor and its customer that the product will be fit for its intended purpose.  For an express warranty claim, the plaintiff alleges the violation of an actual written warranty associated with a product. For an implied warranty claim, the plaintiff alleges that although there is no express warranty, or even though the defect alleged is not covered by the express warranty, the defect in the product renders it unfit for its intended purpose.


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