Defective Products, Explained

What happens when you are injured by using a product that you purchased?

As long as the injury wasn’t your fault–for example, you were using it incorrectly or using it for a purpose it was not intended for–you may be able to bring a products liability action against any party in the product’s chain of distribution. This includes the manufacturer, the manufacturer of a component part of the product, the party that assembled the product, and even the store where you bought the products. When you bring a products liability action, however, you must show that the product was defective and unreasonably dangerous.

How do you do that? The law recognizes several ways.

Design Defects

A design defect occurs when there is an inherent flaw in the way that a product was designed by the manufacturer. As such, a design defect is likely to affect every single item of that type produced by the manufacturer because the defect arose when the manufacturer was planning the product. In order to prove that a design was defective, the plaintiff often resorts to the “reasonable alternative design” test. This test holds that a product’s design is inherently dangerous if the risk could have been eliminated through an alternative design that was:

  1. The manufacturer had the ability to do it,
  2. It would have been economically feasible to make the product with the modified design, and
  3. The redesigned product would still perform the function for which it was intended.

Manufacturing Defects

A manufacturing defect occurs when a product is improperly manufactured and departs from its intended design. Unlike products that are defectively designed, these products are correctly designed—it’s just that something happened along the way that rendered this particular product defective. As such, manufacturing defects affect specific products rather than entire lines of products. Because no one intends to produce a defective product, liability for manufacturing defects is often based on a theory of strict liability. This means that it does not matter how carefully the manufacturer or assembler was; if a product leaves the factory and causes injury when used for its intended purpose, anyone in the product’s chain of production is liable.

Marketing Defects

Also known as “inadequate warning” or “failure to warn,” a marketing defect occurs when the foreseeable risks of harm by the product could have been reduced or avoided by providing an appropriate warning, but no such warning was provided. In order to avoid liability for marketing defects, a warning is required when:

  • The product presents a danger
  • The manufacturer knows about the danger
  • The danger is present when the product is used for its intended purpose
  • The danger is not obvious to the reasonable user

So when does this apply? It’s intensely fact-specific, and varies from product to product and the level of common sense the manufacturer trusts the public possesses.

Contact an Atlanta Products Liability Attorney

If you’ve been injured by a consumer product and believe you may have a claim against the manufacturer or seller, contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404.255.6677. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including the following locations: Fulton County including Atlanta, Roswell, and Sandy Springs; Cobb County including Marietta and Smyrna; DeKalb County including Decatur and Lithonia; Gwinnett County including Lawrenceville and Norcross; Muscogee County including Columbus and Fort Benning; Newton County including Covington; Richmond County including Augusta; Troup County including Lagrange; Walker County including Rossville; Walton County including Loganville; and Whitfield County including Dalton.

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