Anything can go wrong with a product you purchased. It can break after only a few uses, or it could be dysfunctional from the start. However, not every problem with a product qualifies as a defect. Product defects are legally defined in a specific way, and you can file a lawsuit using only one of three direct claims.
In this article, we will discuss the three product defect claims you can make in court. By defining each claim, we hope to illuminate how a defective product lawsuit works.
- Something Went Wrong During the Making of the Product
In court, this is known as a “manufacturer error.” The product did not come out as intended. Let’s say, for example, that the battery in an electric car catches fire. Clearly, no one intended this outcome.
It’s important to locate the origin of this flaw. Upon inspection, it’s discovered that there was a malfunction at the plant. Batteries were not fully locked into place, causing electrical malfunctions and fires. This was a mistake during production, therefore, it is a manufacturer error.
- The Product Was Poorly Designed
Imagine a new compact car that sweeps the market. The manufacturer proudly announces that they found a way to move inner components closer together, saving space. Unfortunately, they didn’t take heat radiation into account. The engine and some tubing are now closely located. After a few months of the car’s release, reports come in that the tubing is melting, causing the car to stall out. This is an example of a design flaw.
It can be hard to differentiate a design flaw from a manufacturer error. With a design flaw, nothing went wrong during the production of the product. It came out exactly as intended. It was the engineering, the very design, of the product that was flawed.
- The Product Was Mislabeled
Of all the defective product claims, this is the most sinister. In it, you must prove that a manufacturer was aware of a danger posed by its product, and it failed to adequately warn consumers.
Mislabeling must pass the “reasonable expectation” test in court. Some products are inherently dangerous, but you still expect a certain degree of safety within their design. A lighter, for example, shouldn’t get red hot and burn your hand. A circular saw shouldn’t occasionally jut forward without warning, causing severe cuts. Consumers have a reasonable expectation that these products won’t operate this way.
Mislabeling is also a direct accusation of unscrupulous behavior. If you are using a circular saw that sometimes juts forward, that could be a flaw no one caught during inspection. In that case, the defect is a manufacturer error or design flaw. Mislabeling assumes that the company was aware of this hazard. Moreover, it accuses them of intentionally neglecting to put warnings on their packaging or product manuals.
I’ve Been Injured by a Defective Product. What Should I Do?
If a defective product caused you harm, talk to an attorney as soon as possible. They can help you review your options and guide your next steps. They may be able to reach out to a manufacturer and reach an appropriate settlement, compensating you for your injury. If necessary, they can take the matter to court.
In a defective product lawsuit, you can be directly reimbursed for your expenses. Any medical bills you incurred – including copays, surgeries, prescriptions, therapies, and so on – can be paid back. You can also recover income, future income, and/or potential income you lost during recovery.
There are also “non-economic” damages designed to compensate you for your pain and suffering. Determining this figure is complicated, and it requires the skills of a good lawyer. Put simply, the more pain you endured and the longer you endured it, the more money you could be granted.
Finally, a court can use damages to punish a manufacturer. If the company is guilty of fraud or directly malicious behavior, which could be the case in a mislabeled product, they could be ordered to pay punitive damages. A civil court cannot convict someone with a criminal offense, so punitive damages take the place of such a conviction.
If you’ve been harmed by a defective product, contact our firm today for a free consultation. We can help you seek the justice you deserve. Our number is (607) 228-8404, and you can contact us online.