Product Defect Claims


Even though companies are required by law to take steps to provide product safety, an unsafe product may still find its way onto the shelves and into an unsuspecting consumer’s hands. When this happens, the injured party may be able to file a claim and collect damages. All types of products including cars, machines, toys, furniture, clothes, pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices can potentially pose a hazard to users.

An injured person can file a claim based on negligence, strict liability or a breach of warranty.

As in the majority of personal injury claims, the burden is on the plaintiff to convince the courts or jury that the defendant placed a defective product on the market or has been negligent and that negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Manufacturers need to take reasonable care to protect consumers from potential hazards. In doing so they consider not only the potential for safety hazards with the design of a product, but they also look at possible ways consumers could misuse the product and cause injury. With this knowledge, they then work on creating modifications to remedy these defects or potential dangers. If the defects can not be remedied, the manufacturer may have a duty to warn of the danger. The distributor and merchant who sold the product may also be liable for the safety of a product.

Types Of Claims And Product Defects

Under strict liability laws, the manufacturer is automatically responsible for injuries resulting from products that leave their hands in a defective condition. Unsafe products can stem from manufacturing defects, design defects, or from a lack of proper warnings informing consumers of the risks associated with product use.

With manufacturing defect claims, the plaintiff must show the item was produced without adhering to specific guidelines. This means the product was defective when it left the plant.

Design defects occur within the design process and affect the entire product line. These may present users with an unreasonable danger during the intended usage of the product. Plaintiffs may be required to show there were safer, cost-effective alternatives available to the manufacturer and that the manufacturer failed to implement them. Most product liability claims are the result of design defects. However, consumers should keep in mind that not all products are considered unreasonably dangerous. Products such as explosives and chemicals are dangerous, but not unreasonably so when used properly. If these products are used as intended, they may not create a liability for the company which created the product.

Failure to warn consumers of potential dangers from product misuse can also result in strict liability claims. An otherwise safe product may have a high liability factor if warnings are not present. All instructions and warnings must clearly state the product’s intended use and list possible dangers that exist from ignoring these instructions.

To file a breach of warranty claim, plaintiffs must prove an express warranty existed and that it was not satisfied. There are also implied warranties that require the product be of merchantable quality and safe for its intended use.

How Long Do I Have To File A Product Liability Claim?

Generally, product liability claims in Pennsylvania must be filed within two years of the injury. To avoid any potential problems be sure to talk with a lawyer well in advance of this deadline.

If you’ve been injured by a product, keep the product in a safe place to avoid tampering with it. Take photos of the product and of any injuries. Gather all warranties and other written materials regarding the product. Take this information and discuss your case with an experienced product liability lawyer.

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