A gavel with scales in the background and the words "3 Types of Product Liability"

From the famous McDonald’s coffee case to multiple nationwide auto recall, product liability cases usually hit the national headlines only when someone is severely (or unusually) injured. However, each year, a whopping 34 million people are injured by a dangerous or defective product, and most of these cases never make the news.

Not all product liability claims are created equal, and some cases are much harder to prove than others. Read on to learn more about the similarities (and differences) between the three main theories of product liability.

Design Defects

Design defects mean that the product, as planned and manufactured, is unreasonably dangerous or defective. Design defects are universal in that a product that is defectively designed for one person will be dangerous to any person – although not every person who uses the product will necessarily be injured. Many class-action product liability lawsuits involve products with a defective design.

Design defect lawsuits often involve prescription drugs and other pharmaceuticals. Even when a new drug is extensively tested before it hits the market, patients may suffer unexpected combinations of side effects that can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences. Lawsuits filed in the wake of these drugs’ release often allege that the manufacturers should have tested the drugs more thoroughly or on a broader population of test subjects.

To establish that a product was defectively designed, you’ll often need the testimony of an expert witness—someone with a background and experience in the field who can point out each of the design flaws and how they could have been eliminated or made safer.

Manufacturing Defects

In other cases, a product designed to be perfectly safe may be dangerously damaged during the manufacturing process. Manufacturing errors can often go unnoticed until someone using the product is injured, and often affect just a small subset of the total number of products made.

Many of the recent salmonella and e. Coli lawsuits against food manufacturers and distributors are based on a “manufacturing defect” theory of law. While these foods themselves weren’t defective when they were grown, during the picking, cleaning, packing, and shipping process, they were exposed to dangerous microorganisms that can cause serious illness to anyone who consumes them.

Determining whether a product has been defectively manufactured is sometimes clear-cut. But in other cases, it can be a tough investigation, and it often isn’t until multiple people are injured that these victims realize that they’re not alone.

Marketing Defects

The marketing defect category is often better known as the “failure to warn” defect. These defects occur when a product is designed and produced correctly but has an inherently dangerous trait that wouldn’t be obvious to the average user.

Many of the warning labels on products today are a result of successful marketing-defect lawsuits. Once a product has been proven to lack a necessary warning label, manufacturers will rush to include these warnings on future products to avoid further legal liability.

Recovering Damages in Product Liability Cases

To recover damages in a product liability lawsuit, you’ll have to establish three factors: (1) the product was designed, manufactured, or marketed in a defective manner; (2) the manufacturers or distributors knew, or should have known, about the product’s defect; and (3) you suffered tangible injuries when you used the product.

Proving even two of these three factors won’t be enough to tip the scales in your favor. For example, if you can show that a product was defective and that those who sold it should have known of this defect, but you weren’t actually injured, you won’t be entitled to damages. And if you show that you were injured by a defective product, but there was no possible way for the manufacturers to anticipate or prevent the defect, the manufacturers won’t be held liable.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a dangerous or defective product, the experienced personal injury lawyers at The Dashner Law Firm can help. Give them a call or fill out the quick contact form on their website to set up your free, no-obligation consultation today.