Product Liability: What it Is, Why it Matters

Product Liability

By Kyle Hambright

Thousands of injuries are caused by defective products each year throughout the US. There are three main types of product liability, 1) design defects, 2) manufacturing defects, 3) marketing defects. As for the person to be held liable, this can be anyone from the manufacturing to the distribution chain.

Product liability laws are in place to protect consumers from any harm that might come to them from using any merchandise. Also, it helps the injured receive compensation.

What is Product Liability

Product liability refers to who is liable when a product causes any damage to a user. The person or entity responsible for the incident can be anyone from the manufacturing or distribution chain. Furthermore, they may be exposed to product liability lawsuits to answer for the injury they have inflicted.

All items on the market should satisfy the expectations of clients and not disappoint. Most importantly, these should in no way endanger the well-being of the users. Such laws are in place, so that the victim may receive some compensation for the injury they have suffered. However, it also helps prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future and injuring more people.

If you are wondering what kind of products qualify for this discussion, know that the list is long. To begin with, the talk is not limited to material objects; the definition was stretched out to intangibles that are subject to product liability laws. Here are a few items, which you might not known qualify:

  • Intangibles (e.g. electricity and gas)
  • Real estate (e.g. house)
  • Writings

Types of Defects

For a valid case, it is necessary to prove these two things: 1) the product in question was faulty and 2) the product became very dangerous on account of the defect. In the next section, we will present the three types of product liability and offer an illustrative example for each case. Sadly all kinds of customers can be exposed to injury, including our beloved pets (in the case of pet products) and even children.

Design Defects

These defects occur before manufacturing and are inherent to the merchandise. The plan for the product is erroneous and exposes the user to danger. Clackers, the popular toy during the 1960s and 1970s, is a good example of a design defect.

The idea behind the toy was pretty simple. It is made of two balls hanging from a string, which are swung around. However, the problem was that the balls were made from acrylic, and they often shattered upon impact. Many users were injured by splinters flying around.

Manufacturing defects

These types of defects appear during product assembly, so not all of the items have it. A rather famous example of this was the toy Aquabeads. In case you are not familiar with it, the set contained plastic beads of different colors, which were used by kids to create all kinds of designs. However, some of the beads were found to be toxic. Several children around the world were hospitalized on account of these.

An inquiry uncovered that some sets were made with a different substance than the designers intended. This substance was cheaper, but it was also dangerous when ingested, it acted like a pharmacologically active sedative.

Marketing Defects

These appear in the final stage, in how the item is presented. Here the error can be anything from a laconic label to missing instructions. So, if a product fails to warn against all types of hazards, it may leave the door open to a possible lawsuit. This is why you will find some pretty absurd reasons behind particular items having very long warning labels with some rather strange entries.

Recently a story made headlines in the news about Tessica Brown who ran out of hairspray and used Gorilla Spray Adhesive on her hair. She posted a video, which quickly went viral, about the predicament she found herself in, asking for help.

Many people stepped up and offered their assistance, including Beyoncé’s personal hairstylist, and plastic surgeons. She recently underwent a procedure offered to her for free by Dr. Michael Obeng, during which the glue was successfully removed.

The warning on the bottle does specify that the glue should not be used on skin or clothing, that it must not get in the eyes, and it must not be swallowed. However, it does not explicitly state anything about hair. Should it? How long should a warning label become?

Although rumor had it that she decided to deny claims and sue the company, she has recently dismissed such claims. However, this fueled heated discussions among specialists about the validity of a possible lawsuit.

Product Liability Claims

Product liability laws are only under state jurisdiction, so they may vary greatly depending on the location. Besides, warranty rules relating to product liability may also be found in commercial statutes, based on the Uniform Commercial Code. In an attempt to bring a degree of homogeneity, the Model Uniform Product Liability ACT (MUPLA) was published by the United States Department of Commerce.

Due to the lack of federal law on product liability, based on the state jurisdiction, the theories evoked by product liability claims are:

  • Strict liability
  • Negligence
  • Breach of warranty

It is the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure that their product is not harmful to the user. This means that any preventable danger should be avoided. If you do get injured, you can be eligible to receive financial compensation.


Why Product Liability Matters

Product liability laws are in place to offer some compensation to those injured by a defective product. Also, they help prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. These laws are different in each state, and they are subject to periodical updates. If you have been injured in any way by a product, consider contacting a qualified lawyer. They will have in-depth knowledge of the law, and upon reviewing your case, they can help you get a fair settlement.

About the Author

Kyle Hambright

Kyle Hambright is a passionate writer proudly representing Pintas and Mullins Law Firm. He has focused his legal career on personal injury cases, and throughout his practice, Kyle has helped people from all walks of life. This determination transpires in his writings as well. His articles translate the complex web of legal jargon into accessible text. Readers not only gain a firm grasp on theory, but they also learn how to put it into practice.

Disclaimer: This article contains sponsored marketing content. It is intended for promotional purposes and should not be considered as an endorsement or recommendation by our website. Readers are encouraged to conduct their own research and exercise their own judgment before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.