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product liability

Product liability claims serve as legal recourse for consumers injured or suffered losses due to defective products. They are an essential component of consumer protection legislation. They act as a deterrent against substandard manufacturing practices and ensure that businesses adhere to stringent quality standards. 

What Are the Different Types of Product Liability Claims?  

Four primary types of product defects can lead to liability claims, including: 

  • Manufacturing defects occur when a product deviates from its intended design due to errors in the production process. One of the most notable cases involving a manufacturing defect is the case against General Motors. The automotive giant faced a class-action lawsuit over a flaw in their ignition switches. This defect caused the vehicle to turn off while being driven suddenly, resulting in several accidents and fatalities. Despite knowing about the issue, General Motors failed to address it promptly. 

  • Design defects, on the other hand, imply that the entire line of products is inherently unsafe, regardless of how flawlessly they are manufactured. The infamous Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle, where the phones were prone to catching fire, is a textbook case of design defect. 

  • Marketing defects refer to inadequate instructions or warnings about a product's use. The landmark case of Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder, which was linked to ovarian cancer due to insufficient warnings, exemplifies this type of defect. 

  • Breach of warranty refers to claims that arise when a manufacturer fails to honor their implied or express warranty. For example, Jane is a small business owner who recently purchased a high-end commercial espresso machine for her coffee shop. The machine manufacturer provided a five-year warranty guaranteeing that it would operate without defects. However, Jane encounters significant issues just six months after purchasing the device. Despite multiple repair attempts, the problem persists. Jane contacts the manufacturer, citing the warranty. Still, they dismiss her claim, arguing that the issue is due to improper use, which is not covered by the warranty. Here, Jane has grounds for a breach of warranty claim. 

Read our blog, “What Is Product Liability?” to better understand these types of claims and for more examples of defective product cases.   

Elements of a Product Liability Claim  

In a product liability case, there are several key elements that need to be established. These include: 

  • Existence of a defect  

  • Causation and damages  

  • Intended use  

The Product Was Defective  

The plaintiff must prove that the product in question is defective. This flaw can be a defect in the design, manufacturing, or marketing as and an issue with the warranty. You will need different evidence based on the type of claim you are pursuing.  

To build a comprehensive list of evidence to prove that a product was indeed defective, you should consider the following: 

  • Product design documents. These can help establish if there was a design flaw inherent in the product. 

  • Testimony from affected individuals. Personal accounts from individuals who have suffered harm due to the product can be powerful evidence. 

  • Photographs and videos. Visual proof of the faulty product and the damage caused can be very compelling. 

  • Instruction manual. A manual that fails to instruct on safe usage properly or doesn't warn about potential risks could contribute to proving a product is defective. 

  • Communication records. Emails, letters, or call records between the consumer and manufacturer discussing the product's issues can be crucial. 

  • Warranty information and service records. These documents can show whether the product was maintained according to the manufacturer's guidelines and if any repairs were made that could have introduced defects. 

  • Incident reports and complaints. Documentation of similar cases or complaints about the same product can support the defect claim.  

  • Expert opinions. An expert's view on the product's design, manufacturing process, or safety standards can be invaluable in proving a defect. 

  • Material analysis. Evidence of substandard materials or poor craftsmanship in the product can indicate manufacturing defects. 

  • Safety warnings. Lack of adequate safety warnings can suggest that the manufacturer failed in their duty to inform consumers of potential risks. 

  • Recalls or ignored safety warnings. Information about previous recalls or safety warnings the manufacturer did not act upon can strengthen your case.  

  • Product details. Information about when and where the product was purchased, how it was used, and any modifications made after purchase can all be relevant. 

These pieces of evidence can collectively provide a robust argument that the product in question was indeed defective. However, every case is unique, and the relevance of each piece of evidence will depend on the specific circumstances. Working with an experienced product liability attorney can ensure all relevant evidence is identified and used effectively to support your case. 

You Were Using the Product as Directed  

It is important to show that the product was being used in the way it was intended to be used, or in a foreseeable manner, when it caused injury. For example, suppose you were using an outdoor grill inside or were using the outdoor grill in a way another careful product owner would not. In that case, you do not have a claim to pursue. 

You Suffered Injuries or Losses as a Direct Result of the Defect 

It must be proven that the defect in the product caused injury or financial losses to the plaintiff. Emotional distress alone is generally not considered sufficient; evidence such as medical bills, witness testimony, or records showing lost earnings must exist.  

Experienced & Trust Counsel  

At Zayas Law Firm, our attorneys can help you file a product liability claim and collect the evidence needed to prove the validity of your claim. For the legal counsel you need and deserve, call (860) 854-9156. We offer free case reviews.  

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