What are the most common types of product liability cases?

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Researcher: Ariana Arce​

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Journalist: Aaron Vivanco

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Editor: Daniela Polo

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What are the most common types of product liability cases?

Product liability lawsuits involve defective products that caused injuries or illnesses to consumers. Although these cases usually fall into the negligence category, they are associated with liability regardless of the intention or knowledge that the defendant may have had when making or marketing the product. Learn what is a product liability lawsuit, which types exist, and how to file a lawsuit.

What are the Most Common Types of Product Liability Cases? 

There are three categories into which product liability cases frequently fall. This is usually dictated by the stage of the production or distribution process in which the defect occurred. There may be manufacturing defects, defective design, or a marketing problem. 

Manufacturing defects

During the manufacturing process, there may have been mistakes, resulting in a defective and sometimes dangerous product. Sometimes, these errors may happen at a factory or laboratory, which may make the owner or company responsible for what happened. 

Manufacturing defects can either happen when the entire product is created or when an independently-made piece of product is manufactured. In these opportunities, the company that made that piece may become the responsible party. 

Defective design

On occasions, the defect happens in a previous stage of the manufacturing process and affects the entire line of products. When a product isn’t well designed, it may cause accidents, illnesses, and other injuries to consumers. Consequently, even when the manufacturer created the product as instructed, the product design itself may be the problem. 

Marketing defect

This is a very common type of product liability as well. It happens when the manufacturer or company that makes the product fails to warn consumers about the risks of their creation. These items may be marketed as harmless and even beneficial, but end up hiding risks. 

For example, let’s take the NEC formula lawsuit. In this case, the manufacturers advertised their baby formula without a warning about the health risks of NEC in preterm babies. They even marketed the product as beneficial, which made plaintiffs file product liability lawsuits all over the country. 

Breach of warranty

This type of liability lawsuit is filed when product warranties, either express or implied, are not in compliance with the product’s written warranty or the implied law for such items. 

For example, if you buy a blender, the express warranty may say that it works well for at least 24 months, otherwise, they return your money or send you a technician to repair it for free. If the blender breaks before that time, and the costs are not covered, you may sue. 

How To File a Product Liability Claim?

To successfully file a product liability lawsuit, the plaintiff should prove that:

  • The product was defective at the time the defendant sent it to be sold or marketed.
  • The defect caused the plaintiff’s injury.

Also, courts usually adopt two standards to assess whether a product is indeed defective. The consumer expectation standard is where the danger or risk of the product is unknowable and unacceptable to a common consumer. Under this standard, the courts consider what is the nature or purpose of a product. 

Under the risk-utility standard, the product was designed in a way that poses risks that outweigh the benefits. This way, the risk or danger of the product is in its essence or purpose. When courts adopt this standard they look for labels, warnings, the way of marketing the product, the instructions manual, and also the nature of consumer’s expectations.   

Examples of Product Liability

Some examples of product liability cases are: 

  • Drugs whose manufacturers fail to warn consumers about the dangerous side effects of their product. 

This is the case of the Tylenol lawsuit, in which manufacturers and distributors failed to warn consumers about the risks of developing Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) for kids whose mothers took Tylenol or generic Acetaminophen during pregnancy. 

  • Medical devices that cause harm to the consumer.

The hernia mesh lawsuit is a good example of this type of liability case. Here, consumers endured grave injuries when the implanted device failed.

  • Children’s toys that result are defective or did not have a warning label. 

This happens if the toy has a defective part due to negligence, if the toy lacked a warning label of caution, or if a specific age group could use the toy, for instance. 

Who Can be Sued in a Product Liability Case?

To determine who is the potential defendant of a product liability lawsuit is always best to make a consultation with an experienced product liability attorney. Contact us so we can help you clear any doubt about this process. Sometimes, understanding who is responsible for a consumer’s injury or illness is difficult and the options may be more than one. 

The potential defendants can include:

  • The manufacturer of the entire product.
  • The manufacturer of any part that constitutes the product.
  • The person or company that assembles the item. 
  • The individual or company that installs it.
  • Wholesalers
  • Retail store sellers or distributors. 

Do I Need to Contact a Product Liability Attorney?

Probably yes. A lawyer with expertise in product liability law can guide consumers through the legal process of these types of lawsuits. Among other tasks, they provide accurate and updated information about what kind of lawsuit to file, how to join a class action lawsuit, and which is the statute of limitations. If you need help, contact us so we can assist you.