When a consumer is injured by a defective product, they may have grounds to file a lawsuit. This lawsuit may be filed against the manufacturer, wholesaler or distributor, and knowing who to hold responsible will often come down to the nature of the defective product.
To help get to the bottom of this, you can speak with a Miami personal injury attorney who will advise you whether the defect falls under one of two categories: (1) manufacturing defect; or (2) design defect.
Manufacturing defects are caused due to an error during the manufacturing process. This means manufacturing defects are not intended in the design of the product, but rather occur when something has gone wrong during the manufacturing process.
In these cases, the product was designed well, it was tested well… but then a single unit was damaged in transit, or it was the result of an error in the assembly line. Quality control measures exist at manufacturing plants to ensure things like this don’t happen, that any problems are spotted early, and such products don’t make it to market.
However, the fact is that very often these kinds of defects do slip through the net and end up in stores and homes.
Nearly any product with a large manufacturing run will have at least a small percentage of units with defects. Most of these defects will prevent the product from operating properly and will be harmless. But a small percentage of those defective items will present some kind of danger or hazard.
The theory of strict liability is useful here. Strict liability tells us a manufacturer is liable for any manufacturing defects that occur due to construction. It doesn’t matter whether they were the ones that manufacture the product or whether they were the ones that assembled it. In other words, the responsibility is on them to thoroughly check each unit before selling it, and also to make sure it reaches stores without becoming defective. A personal injury lawyer from Flagler Personal Injury Group will be able to tell you quickly and easily when this is the case.
When you buy a faulty product that stops working, you go to the manufacturer’s warranty. If it stops working, you get in touch with the company that has its name plastered on the front… you don’t go and seek out the manufacturing plant in China and take it up with them! The same goes for product liability.
A design defect on the other hand is a fault with the very design of the product. That is to say, even when the product is built to specifications and as intended, it still poses a danger.
We all hear of design defects from time to time. One example would be phones designed with their antennae positioned in such a way that a hand will cover them up and block the signal during operation. Once again, most of these defects will not pose any risk to the health and safety of the user. It is only in cases where the design causes an injury where you need to consider getting in touch with a personal injury lawyer in Miami.
There are other potential issues that involve product liability law.
For instance, there will be cases where the problem comes down to a ‘failure to warn’. Meaning the product in question carries some kind of inherent risk that isn’t made clear to the user through a warning label.
This is particularly true in the case of many medications. Many medications carry unpleasant and even painful side effects. Some are life-changing. But this is legally acceptable as long as there is a warning. This way, a consumer can make an informed decision when they make the purchase and know of any risks they are taking.
But if that warning isn’t there, then there is an issue. Likewise, a company selling fireworks should include adequate warnings.
Any party in the chain of distribution can be liable in this case. That includes resellers and wholesalers – as these organizations may be in contact with the end user. Again, these issues are something your Miami personal injury attorney can address.
Warning labels are among the most commonly used methods to ensure that users know the risks associated with products. The American National Standards Institute has clear guidelines for using and maintaining these labels and they heavily amended their recommendations to this end in 2002. The new standards ensure that signs are not only present but also clear and easy to read, with detailed explanations and even images where appropriate.
They should be color coded – with colors like red, orange and yellow indicating the potential hazard posed by the product. And they should also include advice on how to avoid undue risk.
So even if the product has no faults and is well designed, a company can still be liable if it hasn’t adhered to these warning guidelines. Again, this is why you need to speak with a personal injury law firm in Miami.