What Is a "Product"?
A product is a manufactured good. For example, a car, a swimming pool, toys, vaccines or medicine are examples of a product. It does not include services, like having blood drawn or being waited on in a restaurant. However, what is defined as a "product" is a decision that is left up to the courts and should be discussed with an attorney before going further.
What Is a Defective Product?
A Defective Product is when a maker of a product puts that product on the market with defects and these defects injure a human being. The defect can come from the way the product was made (manufactured outside the specifications) called a "manufacture defect" or from the design of the product, called a "design defect".
Manufacture Product Defect
A manufacture defect is a defect that is caused when a product comes out differently than other products just like it and this difference injures someone. For example:
- a car made on an assembly line is supposed to be exactly the same as any other car that comes off that line. If the seat belt in one of the cars is not properly attached and someone gets into that car and it crashes, if the doesn't hold them in their seat and they fly through the windshield, then that seat belt had a manufacture design defect.
- Another example is when someone buys a toy at the store and the arm on the doll isn't attached properly. A child puts it in his or her mouth and the arm comes off and the child chokes on it, the doll has a manufacture product defect.
- Or another example is if a company has a certain way that they design a swimming pool, but for some reason the pool that you buy wasn't designed that way and as a result the bottom is too slippery. When you step into the pool, you slip and fall and hurt yourself. The slippery bottom is a manufacture product defect.
Is Your Product Defect a "Manufacture Product Defect"?
In order to bring a lawsuit under defective products liability law for a manufacture product defect you must prove that your product malfunctioned:
- The product was defective
- The Defect caused the injury
- The product was used in a reasonably foreseeable manner when the injury occurred
Product Design Defect
A product design defect is a defect that is common to all the products of a particular kind.
- For example, if you buy a car that has the gas tank too close to the trunk and in a rear-end accident it blows up in flames, the design defect is the gas tank being too close to the trunk and it is that way in all cars that were made by that company.
- Another example is if someone was using a piece of equipment without a safety guard and that product ends up cutting off a finger, the fact that the product didn't come with a safety guard is a product design defect.
Is Your Product Defect a "Product Design Defect"?
In products liability to prove a product design defect it must fall into one of two categories:
- structural defect
- lack of safety features
Examples of Product Design Defects
- A structural defect could be brakes on a car that lock when pressed.
- A lack of safety features defect could be an electric saw without a guard that keeps the item you're cutting on the table, a piece of machinery without an automatic shut-off valve, etc.
These are just examples; you should first seek legal assistance from a professional to find out if you have a case.
Did You Have a Warranty?
A warranty is a guarantee on the product you purchased from a seller. There are two types of warranties:
- implied product warranty
- express product warranty
Implied Product Warranty
An implied product warranty is a warranty that is not written down or spoken, but that guarantees that the product you purchased will do what you expect it to do because that's what its purpose is. For example, if you buy a car from a dealer you expect the steering wheel to work without the dealer telling you that it will work because the wheel is necessary for a car to be a car.
Express Product Warranty
An express warranty, on the other hand, comes in three forms:
- The dealer can make a statement of fact about the product.
-For instance, if he says, "the windshield on this car is shatterproof". If while driving the glass is hit by a pebble and shatters causing injury to your eyes, then the warranty given to you invalid and you may be able to sue for damages.
- The dealer gives a description of the product.
-If the dealer says the product will have a wire connected to it that prevents it from overheating and the wire doesn't do that, then the warranty is invalid and you may sue for damages.
- The dealer may also use a sample or a model to show what your product may look like and what it can do.
-If the dealer shows you a tire that can withstand fire and tells you that the one you are purchasing is exactly the same and when you take it home it doesn't withstand fire, then the warranty is invalid and you may be able to sue.
Exceptions to the Warranty Rules - Disclaimers
However, even if you have an express warranty or an implied warranty you may not be able to sue. If the dealer tells you that the steering wheel on the car doesn't work and you purchase it anyway you can not sue if the car doesn't work because of the steering wheel. The dealer's statement is called a "disclaimer". Once the dealer states a disclaimer and you decide to purchase it anyway you may not be able to sue. Check with an attorney before proceeding further.
Disclaimers may also limit the amount and kind of damages you may be able to collect if you sign something saying that you sign away those rights. In some cases, a disclaimer may be against the law and invalid. Speak with an attorney to ensure you know all your options.
Circumstances - When Can You Not Bring a Lawsuit
You can not bring a lawsuit if you and someone else bought the same product and theirs malfunctions and yours doesn't.
- For example, if you turn on the news and hear a story about someone with the same lawn mower as you, and that person's mower has run over their foot because the handle wasn't manufactured properly and broke off.
- you can not sue if your mower still works properly and the handle is still attached and hasn't injured you.
For further information see the related topics:
Defective Product Lawsuits
Under California product liability law a Product Liability Lawsuit may be brought if a defective product injures a person, on the basis that the manufacturer or the seller of that product may be liable for the damages caused by the defective product.
You should always speak with an attorney before proceeding with your lawsuit.