Proving that you were harmed by a defective product is more complicated than just displaying your injury. Some items, like lighters or buzzsaws, are inherently dangerous, and the user takes responsibility for using the product. This is exactly the argument the defense would make in a defective product lawsuit, attempting to blame you for your injuries.
To prove a defective product case, you must show that there was something inherently wrong with the item, and it directly caused your injuries. In a defective product case, there are three primary accusations you can make against a manufacturer.
Accusation 1: Manufacturer Error
When you accuse a company of manufacturer error, you claim that the product was produced incorrectly. Imagine you are driving a car, and the brakes stop working. Later, it is discovered that the brakes were not making contact with the wheel. A critical piece of the unit came loose, keeping the brakes from going their full length. Further investigation reveals that there was an error at the factory, and these pieces were going loose on many models.
This is an example of manufacturer error. Obviously, the brakes were meant to extend their full length. No one at the car company intended for this to happen, and the cars were built incorrectly. If poor craftsmanship leads to an injury, you can hold the producers accountable.
Accusation 2: Defective Design
Defective design claims that there is a flaw in the very development and use of a product. Take a buzzsaw, for example. Perhaps there is a new model with a sliding panel out front. It allows you to put wood onto it and push it into the saw. The problem is, the panel is too short, and it moves too quickly. Many consumers sustain injuries, as the design of the product puts their hands next to the blade too fast. This is a design flaw.
It can be difficult to differentiate between manufacturer error and defective design. Both result from an inherent error in the product. The difference is that a product with a defective design was made exactly as intended. All the units were made the same way. There was an oversight in the item’s development or engineering, and the error was discovered later. Design flaw is not the result of a mistake in production; it’s the result of a mistake in development.
Accusation 3: Mislabeled Product
In personal injury law, you often hear the words “reasonable expectation.” Someone who opens a box of cereal, for example, has a reasonable expectation that there won’t be sharp objects inside. When a product has dangers outside of a consumer’s reasonable expectations, it must come with a warning. If a company is aware of dangers in their product, and they do not provide warning, they are guilty of mislabeling.
For instance, imagine you are a cigar smoker, and you purchase a new butane lighter. Your new lighter looks great, and you don’t see any particular warnings outside of the norm. As a regular consumer of butane lighters, you have a reasonable expectation that the handle will not overheat. After about four seconds of use, the handle becomes searingly hot, giving you second-degree burns on your palm. This could be a case of a mislabeled product.
Your attorney must investigate to prove that a product was mislabeled. A key aspect of this claim is that the manufacturer knew about the danger beforehand. If not, the defect may be the result of manufacturer error or design flaw.
In a defective product claim, you are not confined to just one of these accusations. A company could be guilty of any combination of these three allegations.
If you’ve been injured by a defective product, contact our office today for a free consultation. You can call us at (916) 778-3228, or you can fill out our online contact form.