Product liability claims are lawsuits brought by injured plaintiffs seeking compensation for damages caused by defective products.
We as consumers, expect our purchases to be safe and work as intended. Still, defects occur. When consumers use everyday products, they may suffer serious injury or even death due to poorly designed products or manufacturing defects, and then product liability comes into the picture. There are two ways to bring a product liability claim. The first is through strict liability and the second is through negligence.
This concept holds that a defendant who sells distributes, or manufactures a defective product is liable for injuries caused by the product even if they did everything they could to prevent injuries. In strict liability, the plaintiff has to prove that the product was defective and that its defect caused the damage. To prove liability, it is necessary to establish a correlation between the inherent defect and the injury.
Negligence is the failure to take reasonable care to prevent injuring someone to whom you owe a duty of care. The plaintiff needs to prove that the manufacturer acted carelessly and for that, the plaintiff needs to prove the 4 elements. One, the manufacturer owed the plaintiff a duty of care, second, there was a breach of duty, third, the breach was responsible for the injury, and the plaintiff suffered an injury because of the negligent conduct. It must be proved that the defendant was aware of the risks and uses of the product and that the plaintiff used it as intended at the time of injury.
Consumers can be injured in many ways by defective products. Yet, there are only three types of product liability claims brought by consumers injured by products made for the general public. Let’s find out what they are.
When a product doesn’t work properly because of an error in its design, manufacturing, or marketing, it is considered defective. The flaw results in a dangerous or hazardous condition that could result in injury or death.
3 Types of product liability claims
Consumers buy products with an assumption that the product is being created, designed, and manufactured to be fit for the purpose for which it was made to be used in all cases. Nobody expects to buy and then use a product, only to discover later that it does not work properly.
Manufacturing defects can affect a single item on a product line or an entire batch of products. This can be due to human error or a malfunction of the existing manufacturing process.
The manufacturer did not design or intend these aspects of the product. They occur when a product differs from its intended design, regardless of how well the manufacturer designed it. This defect occurs in the manufacturing plant where it was produced.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter why the manufacturing defect happened which results in holding Companies liable regardless.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plane grounded all Boeing 737 MAX models in 2020. FAA inspectors believe that some Boeing planes have some manufacturing defects. So, they have grounded all planes pending an examination and fix.
When a product has a design defect, this means that it was designed in such a way that it allowed harm to consumers when they use the product. Certain types of defects result in products being unreasonably dangerous for consumers.
Any product with a design defect will share the same defect with all other products of the same category. A suit on design defect case is usually only brought against the manufacturer responsible for the design of the product at issue. This type of claim requires the plaintiff to prove that the product posed a foreseeable risk of harm to a consumer using it for its intended purpose.
In the case of Lewy v. Remington Arms Co. Inc, a man was planning to hunt deer when his firearm was accidentally fired. The bullet struck the man’s mother after ricocheting off the ceiling. Because of this, she had to stay in the hospital for a month. She was awarded compensatory and punitive damages based on design defect product liability. In its verdict, the jury determined that the handler was likely to discharge the firing mechanism if the safety was released. There was an unreasonable risk of misfires, which made the firearms manufacturer liable for design defects.
3. Failure to warn claims
As per this product liability claim, if the manufacturer fails to provide the user with adequate warnings about the proper use of the item. This claim is about a product that is hazardous in a way the consumer isn’t aware of or that requires special measures.
The determination of the manufacturer’s duty to warn people about the hazards that may arise from its use is a difficult issue to handle.
Cough syrup, for example, does not state on its label that it may have dangerous side effects if taken with another used medication, such as aspirin.
In this case Bullock v. Philip Morris, Plaintiff Betty Bullock filed a lawsuit against Philip Morris in 2002. She claimed that smoking caused her cancer and that had she been warned better, she would have changed her behavior. She claimed that Philip Morris undertook an active campaign to conceal the risks associated with smoking. A jury awarded Bullock $850,000 in compensatory damages. She was also awarded $28 million in punitive damages.