The Basics of a Product Liability Claim


The field of product liability is broad and encompasses a wide range of claims. Nevertheless, a typical case involves a plaintiff pursuing a manufacturer, distributor, supplier, retailer, or other entity involved in making a product over injuries suffered.

Most product liability claims are handled at the state level, although laws regardless of location are similar. A lawyer taking on a claim, in nearly all cases, must not only prove the product is defective but additionally that this error caused the plaintiff’s injury.

The defendant, typically, claims its product has no error and that the plaintiff incorrectly used it. However, manufacturers are expected to foresee less typical uses for a product and make sure these uses will not result in an injury or death.

Product defects can occur at any time: around the time it was manufactured or after it has been on the market for several years. Because defects can be found in multiple products, a product liability claim may have multiple plaintiffs.

Although the field encompasses several types of cases, product liability claims can be broken down into three types:

Manufacturing Defects

As the name implies, manufacturing defects occur in the creation process and may pertain to poor-quality materials and construction. For these cases, the error occurred in making one specific product or item; as a result, the product purchased and causing the injury differs from all others on the shelf. A lawyer, for this claim, needs to prove the specific defect resulted in the injury.

Design Defects

Considered a more widespread problem, design defects make a product inherently dangerous or useless when manufactured to precision. As a result, a whole product line poses a danger to consumers. For these cases, as well, a lawyer must prove the defect resulted in injury.

Failure to Warn

Failure to warn cases pertain to products with less obvious dangers that could be lessened from a warning label or instructions. When a product does not come with directions for correct usage or with a list of special precautions, the product, which can include medications, poses a danger to the user.

The three types of product liability cases, however, are not exact legal claims. Instead, they fall within the scope of negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty or contract, and other consumer protection claims.

Lawyers will determine to take on a product liability claim based on its rate of success. For a successful claim, a plaintiff or plaintiffs may be awarded an amount for injury-related expenses, past and future medical costs, lost future earnings, and pain and suffering.