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Do you know the three types of product defects?
Dangerous consumer products hit shelves in grocery stores and retail shops all across the nation on an ongoing basis. Toys, appliances, auto parts, furniture, clothing – you name it – are sold to people every single day.
Sadly, when hazardous goods land in the hands of a consumer, they frequently get hurt. But, in most cases, consumers have legal recourse options to obtain justice and compensation.
Understanding product liability
Under the general principle of product liability, a manufacturer, seller, wholesaler or other party in the chain of distribution can be liable if they place a defective product in the marketplace that ultimately causes injury to a consumer who purchases the goods.
There are three main types of defects that can occur. The plaintiff, or injured party, has the burden to prove, however, that there was a defect and the defect was the actual cause of the injury.
Defect 1: How the product is designed
In this case, the defect, or hazard, occurs in the way the product was designed. A case-in-point involves the manufacturer of a baby crib.
The crib includes vertical bars to prevent the baby or toddler from climbing out and falling. However, the manufacturer opts to design the crib so that each bar is approximately 5 inches in width. The choice to have this amount of space between each bar causes the baby to get their head stuck and injured.
In this case, the way the product is designed makes it defective.
Defect 2: How the product is manufactured
With a manufacturing defect, the product’s design is adequate and doesn’t pose a danger but becomes hazardous instead during the manufacturing process.
Metal shards found in a box of cereal that seriously harm a child or bacteria contamination in a dairy product that causes digestive problems are two common examples. Manufacturing defects, however, can apply in many different cases and products.
Defect 3: How the product is marketed
A manufacturer of a consumer product has a duty to provide adequate, conspicuous warnings to the user of its product. The product maker must advice on possible hidden dangers and must also provide proper and easy to understand instructions to the consumer on how to use the product in a safe manner. If they don’t, they could be liable for a failure to warn defect.
A well-known example involved cigarettes. Prior to the early 90s, cigarette manufacturers failed to warn users of the addictive nature of their tobacco products and also their propensity to cause cancer (despite the manufacturer’s alleged knowledge of both).
Today, large, noticeable warning labels are now found on tobacco products of all kinds that notify the user of the inherent risks and dangers of its use.