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Understanding the Different Types of Product Liability Claims

Each year, thousands of consumers get injured by defective products. If you have bought a product that does not work as advertised, you may also have a product liability claim. 

For instance, if you buy a new vehicle but it comes with defective airbags, you and your passengers might suffer serious injuries in case of an accident.

If you are wondering how to get recourse, read on to understand the different types of liability claims.

When a product fails to perform as expected, the consequences can be fatal. Your product liability claim can be based on a design defect, manufacturing defect, or marketing defect.

In some cases, product liability can involve more than one defect. Talking to an experienced liability attorney can help you understand where your claim falls and ensure you get fair compensation.

What Is Product Liability?

Product liability holds designers, distributors, sellers, and manufacturers of defective products liable for negligence. 

Their negligence is their role in the distribution chain that caused a consumer to purchase a product that has non-inherent risks. Such products may cause severe injuries due to malfunctioning.

In 2021, over 11 million victims went to the emergency rooms for treatment for injuries caused by defective products. 

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, this number does not include consumers who got treatment for their injuries at home or from a primary care doctor.

When a manufacturer sells you a product that is unsafe, defective, or malfunctioning, you may have a product liability claim. You can file a claim with the at-fault party if you were severely injured as a result of using a defective product.

However, if you suffer an injury that is inherent to using the product, listed as a caution, or even as a result of improper use of the product, you may not have a product liability claim. 

To successfully file a product liability claim, any injuries suffered must be from the product’s defective design, manufacturing, and marketing.

Types of Product Liability Claims?

There are different types of liability claims. From a vehicle with defective airbags to furniture that puts you at risk of toppling over. If you have been hurt by defective products, you might wonder how to deal with the situation.

Should you file a warranty, return the product for repair or replacement, or just discard it and buy another alternative? Can you sue the seller or manufacturer? Where should you report the defect? Who will listen and validate your claim? Talking to a liability attorney can help clear these questions.

Your attorney will categorize your product liability claim into one of the following.

Manufacturing Defect

A manufacturing defect means an error occurred during product assembly. It may also indicate that the design of the product is not in question. 

However, in some cases, a product defect can occur as a result of both defective design and manufacturing.

You may have a manufacturing defect product liability claim if perhaps a factory error occurred resulting in the product being made from the wrong material. As a result, the product may fail to conform with the intended design which may cause safety issues.

Typically, manufacturing defects do not affect the entire line of products. Most manufacturers have a team to identify such defective products and discard them before they reach the consumer. 

Nonetheless, it is not uncommon for such products to land in shops and supermarkets where they are bought by consumers. 

Manufacturing defects may occur due to:

  • Materials used in manufacturing were of inferior quality.
  • Poor workmanship
  • Inadequate supervision or oversight during the manufacture
  • Insufficient quality control measures
  • Faulty product testing that failed to identify product defects.

Manufacturing defects may include vehicle tires made using the wrong rubber material, contaminated medicine due to improper sealing, malfunctioning windshield wipers, and more.

It is important to note that to file a product liability claim, you must suffer injury as a direct result of the product/s defect. 

For instance, if you have defective wipers and get involved in a car accident resulting in injuries, you cannot file a claim based on manufacturing defects. This is because it is unlikely that the malfunctioning windshield wipers caused the accident.

However, you might have a case if the windshield wipers failed to perform in poor weather causing you to get into an accident. A product liability lawyer can help you determine the exact cause and help you through the entire process.

Design Defect

If a product has a defective design, it is inherently unsafe. That means that from the start, such a product is unreasonably dangerous and risks the lives of consumers. 

Design errors affect all products manufactured. In most cases, products with defective designs result in large-scale recalls.

To prove a design defect, you must prove that the risk could have been prevented if the manufacturer had used an alternative design. To demonstrate product liability due to defective design, the following must be true.

  • The manufacturer had the ability to use an alternative design.
  • The cost of the alternative design does not impose an unfair burden on the manufacturer.
  • The alternative design does not conflict with the product’s original purpose.

For instance, a company may design a fan without safety features such as a barrier to keep people from getting injured by the blades. It is reasonably foreseeable that users would suffer injuries.

Adding such a barrier would also be an insignificant change to the design or purpose of the fan. In such a case, it can be argued that the product design is defective and you may be entitled to damages for injuries.

Other examples of defective design include:

  • Children’s toys made with small parts that could potentially be a choking hazard
  • Batteries that catch fire while in use
  • Takata airbags were recalled due to the risk of explosion

Marketing Defect

A marketing defect also known as failure to warn occurs before the product is released to consumers. To demonstrate a marketing defect, you must prove that the product has the potential to injure consumers.

You must also prove that the manufacturer failed to provide a warning or adequate instructions concerning the product’s use. 

For instance, if a manufacturer does not warn consumers of the potential of toxic fumes from the use of pesticides, they may be held liable for product liability.

Manufacturers have a duty of care to provide adequate instructions to consumers on how to use their products to avoid harm. 

They must also include clear warnings about any inherent dangers their product carries. Such warnings must be specific, clear, and prominently placed.

Marketing defects may include:

Failure to Warn

Failure to warn is one of the most common marketing defects. It also carries the highest risk to consumers. Manufacturers must provide adequate warning if their products have the potential to cause harm.

Such products must have clear, easily visible warning labels that warn users of potential dangers. Without adequate warning, such products can cause serious injuries and even death. 

For instance, most hair appliances such as curling irons carry clear warning signs that the device should not be exposed to water.

Insufficient Directions

If used incorrectly, some products carry potential risks. Manufacturers must also provide complete instructions on product usage. They may also be held liable if they do not provide thorough guidelines on usage.

False or Misleading Advertising and Promotion

This marketing defect involves products that are marketed with false, misleading, or ambiguous information. 

The manufacturer or retailer may be held responsible for failure to indicate potential hazards to consumers that may lead to injuries.

How Do the Three Types of Product Liability Compare?

To demonstrate the various types of product liability claims, pharmaceutical claims provide the most efficient example. 

For instance, if a chemical gets into a bottle of medicine accidentally at the factory during manufacture. In this case, if a consumer is injured as a result of taking such contaminated medicine, they can hold the manufacturer liable for a manufacturing defect.

If the same bottle of medicine caused a consumer to have a heart attack as a side effect of the natural ingredients it contains, you can file a claim based on defective design.

However, if a bottle of medicine is made correctly following all the safety procedures and is safe for consumption but you combine it with another prescription because it did not carry any warning, you can file a claim for failure to warn.

These key differences can help you identify how to file your product claim.


Product liability falls under negligence or strict liability. While strict liability requires you to demonstrate that the defendant acted carelessly, negligence does not. However, if you intend to file a claim, you must generally prove that one or more of the above defects existed.

In addition, you must also prove that your injury was caused by the defect and that you would not have been injured if the product was not defective. Hiring a product liability attorney can help you identify the right type of defect and how to present your case in court.

If you have been injured due to a product defect, get in touch with an attorney to fight for your right to fair compensation.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is provided for general education and informational purposes only, without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose. It is not intended to be and does not constitute financial, legal, tax or any other advice specific to you the user or anyone else. TurtleVerse does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information and shall not be held responsible for any action taken based on the published information.



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