UNITED STATES—When you are harmed by a defective product, you are entitled to compensation. Many people assume that the sole entity responsible for paying that compensation is the product manufacturer. However, anyone in the chain of distribution for a product is potentially liable for damages resulting from the use of the item. There are many situations in which a retailer could be forced to pay for damages done.
It Starts With the Manufacturer
Primary liability is always assumed to lie with the manufacturer of a product. There are rare cases in which another party along the chain of distribution did something to the item that caused a safe product to become defective. However, those cases are extremely uncommon and can be almost impossible to prove.
Generally, the manufacturer holds primary responsibility, and a product defect falls into one of three types. The three categories of product defect are:
- Design Defect
- Manufacturing Defect
- Marketing Defect
A design defect is a problem at the core of the product. There is something wrong with the product from the design stage. If the product is perfectly manufactured according to the item specifications, there will be the potential for it to be unreasonably dangerous if it has a design defect. The danger in itself does not mean a product has a defect.
A knife is dangerous but functions exactly how it is supposed to for accomplishing the tasks for which it was created. However, if there is something wrong with the design of how the blade connects to the handle that causes the blade to snap off, then the product has a design defect.
A manufacturing defect occurs when a product is designed correctly, but something goes wrong in the manufacturing phase. This problem causes the item to fail to work as it was designed. A manufacturing defect can happen for a variety of reasons.
Sometimes the equipment used to manufacture an item malfunctions, causing the product to become defective. Other times a manufacturer may try to cut costs and substitute a cheaper material to save money, causing the product to become defective as a result.
Going back to the knife example, a knife may be well designed, but an inferior glue is used to attach the blade to the handle, which leads to the blade snapping off the handle. In this situation, the defect would be a manufacturing defect.
Manufacturing defects often affect a select batch of a product rather than the entire product line.
A marketing defect typically comes down to missing warning labels. Despite being dangerous, a standard knife typically would not require a warning label as everyone is aware of the dangers that it poses. However, many manufacturers have taken to over labeling items in order to protect themselves from any possible lawsuits.
Generally speaking, though, a warning label is needed for a product that operates as it is supposed to and carries a level of danger while doing so that users might possibly not realize. One common example is parts of a product that might become hot during operation.
When a Retailer Is Liable
When filing a defective product lawsuit, it is important to identify all parties that potentially hold a level of liability for the product. The easiest way to figure out who might be liable for damages done beyond the product manufacturer is to contact an experienced product liability lawyer. Get in touch with a Decatur personal injury lawyer for a free consultation.
Even though they did not create the product, a retailer may be liable for the damage it caused if they did not do their due diligence to ensure that the products they were selling were safe. A retailer may hold an even greater responsibility and face far more serious consequences if the product they sold had already been recalled.
While you will generally look to the manufacturer as the primarily liable party, it is important to consider fault for everyone that played a part in getting the product made to you getting it into your hands. A product defect has the potential to result in devastating injuries and highly costly medical bills. It is important to make sure you get the compensation to which you are entitled.
Cheryl Roy has built a successful legal career over the years. However, she wanted to reach out to people beyond her practice and decided to do so by writing. Cheryl took it as a personal mission to make legal information more accessible to the public. Therefore, she started sharing her expertise with individuals and businesses facing a legal dilemma. Now she has branched out to many online and offline platforms and works as a collaborative editor for Bader Scott Law Firm.