Product Liability Examples: The Most Common Product Defects

We all buy and use products, sometimes without being conscious of it. When we wake up, the first thing we do is walk to the kitchen, put on a pot of coffee, and take any prescribed medication. Then, when we’re dressed and ready for work, we get in the car. When we’re finished for the day, we head back home, cook dinner, play with the kids, and clean up.

We encounter everything from appliances like coffee machines, blenders, and stoves to cleaning supplies, painkillers, and children’s toys each day. We expect all of these to work as intended — cooking food, getting rid of that headache, and keeping the kids quiet for a half-hour.

We certainly don’t expect them to pose a danger.

Unfortunately, that’s sometimes the case. Faulty products can cause both minor and catastrophic injuries. When they do, you might be able to file a product liability claim.

We look at some of the most common examples of product liability.

What Is Product Liability?

Product liability refers to the responsibility that anyone in the product manufacturing industry assumes when designing, creating, and distributing its products. If a product is dangerous or defective and results in a consumer’s injury or illness, the party responsible for the error or flaw can usually be held legally and financially accountable for the damage.

Product Liability Case Examples

Product liability cases are relatively common and affect numerous industries. However, a product liability case typically falls into one of three categories:

  • Design defects
  • Manufacturing defects
  • Warning defects.

Design Defects

If a product has a design defect, there is a fundamental flaw or error in the product’s design that makes it dangerous to use or operate. As many products are manufactured in bulk, a design defect can be hazardous, potentially affecting thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people.

A typical example of product liability due to a design flaw is a fan guard with a large gap that allows fingers to come in contact with and get trapped by the metal blades.

Manufacturing Defects

Like a design defect, a manufacturing defect can impact many products, especially now that many of today’s products are mass-produced. This type of product liability involves an error in the creation or assembly process — for example, where the wrong type of screws are used, causing the product to be unstable and potentially fall apart, or where electric circuitry isn’t correctly installed, resulting in electric shocks.

Warning Defects

This final product liability case applies when a product does not warn consumers of danger appropriately or instruct them on use.

Some products are inherently risky. Medications can cause side effects — no matter how rare the case — flat irons can overheat and cause burns, and the blades in a mower can catch your fingers if you get too near.

These are common-sense risks, but they’re still risks, and manufacturers have a legal obligation to warn users. If these warnings or instructions are not present and you suffer an injury, you could be entitled to compensation.

Now we know the three different categories of product defects, let’s look at some specific examples of product liability.

Product Liability Example 1: Pharmaceuticals

A typical example of a product liability case is a defect in pharmaceutical packaging. Medication must be packaged in a clear, sterile environment, but a single error or problem during the packaging process could result in a drug being contaminated.

Medication can also be defective in other ways, especially experimental drugs. Many drugs are approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for widespread use but then later found to pose a threat to health. This includes birth control, acid reflux medication, and antidepressants.

Product Liability Example 2: Dangerous Childcare Products or Toys

This is one of the scarier examples of product liability. Children’s toys are often defective — potentially posing a choking or trip hazard. A child could easily choke if a toy hasn’t been properly manufactured — for example, having small screws that can come loose. Even larger items can be defective. One example is a playhouse or rocking horse — if it’s unbalanced, it could fall over and trap a child.

Product Liability Example 3: Defective Vehicles

We know how dangerous vehicles can be. In Texas alone, not a minute goes by when there isn’t a car accident causing shocking injuries or even death. But in most cases, car accidents are caused by another driver — you certainly don’t expect to be driving safely down the road one moment and skidding along the highway the next.

One example of a product liability case caused by a defective vehicle is a car imbalance that makes it top-heavy and prone to flipping over as you turn a corner.

Other auto defects are also common, such as a tire blowout, brake failure, or defective airbag.

Product Liability Example 4: Defective Household Appliances

The home is a haven, a place for rest and enjoyment, but defective household items and appliances can make it a dangerous place.

Just some examples of product liability involving defective household items include:

  • Defective stoves, refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines, pose a risk of fire, electrocution, and slips and falls.
  • Defective heaters, where faulty wiring can cause fires, electrical burns, or poisoning.
  • Defective power tools, such as a saw with a design defect that lacks protective implements and poses an amputation risk.
  • Defective fire alarms, which fail to alert residents to a fire, leading to smoke inhalation and burns.
  • Defective cleaning products that lack warnings of the harmful chemicals they contain, causing illness, poisoning, and chemical burns.

Product Liability Example 5: Toxic Food Products and Containers

This product liability example could be as simple as mislabeling food as not containing gluten or milk and causing a reaction in someone with an allergy or intolerance. It could also apply if mold, bacteria, or viruses are present in food.

In some cases, the packaging itself could be toxic, such as if it’s been treated with chemicals. Any consumer who eats food affected by one of these defects could become severely ill, and they may be able to file a product liability claim as a result.

Filing a Product Liability Claim

The above examples of product liability can make a product unsafe to handle, use, or consume.

The Texas Product Liability Act governs product liability and states that manufacturers are responsible for any harm their products cause. This means that if a defective product has injured you, you may be able to claim compensation.

Product liability claims differ from traditional personal injury claims in that you do not have to prove the manufacturer was willfully negligent. However, you must show:

  • The product was defective.
  • The product defect was “unreasonably dangerous.”
  • The defect caused an injury while you were using the product as intended, and you haven’t substantially altered the product in a way that could have caused the defect.

The only additional burden is for claims involving a design defect. You must show that there was an alternative, safer design and that the manufacturer could have feasibly designed the product in this way. Our product liability lawyers in McAllen and San Antonio can help you gather evidence to support your claim.

While these examples of product liability cover the most common scenarios, a product defect can happen at any time and to any item. If you’ve been injured by a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact our personal injury lawyers in Texas for a free, no-obligation case review and find out if you have a claim.

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