What Makes A Product Legally Defective?
If a defective product causes you an injury or damages your property (including the product itself), you may be entitled to compensation from the manufacturer, the seller, or another entity along the product line. However, a product can work as intended and still lead to an injury, and if that happens then the manufacturer isn’t responsible for what happened. So what are the rules that decide when a product is defective and when it’s not?
Many products come with warning labels attached to the product itself, printed on the packaging, or else written in the owner’s manual. These warnings and instructions tell you how to use the product correctly and how to avoid dangers. For instance, a leaf blower might come with instructions that tell you how to remove the nozzle to inspect the fan and a warning to only perform this inspection when the blower isn’t plugged in. If the leaf blower turns on as you check the fan and it slices your fingers because you forgot this warning, the manufacturer isn’t liable.
Knives don’t come with warning labels attached because almost every adult understands that sharp knives can cut fingers and hands. You can’t hold the knife manufacturer responsible if someone misuses an obviously dangerous object and hurts themselves or uses it to attack someone else. A vehicle is dangerous because it moves at high speeds and can hit pedestrians, but everyone who drives a car has to have a license and should know how to operate it safely. Some products are inherently and obviously dangerous, and it’s the user’s responsibility to avoid hurting anyone with it.
Sometimes a product doesn’t do what it’s supposed to because the inherent design is flawed. For instance, the infamous exploding Samsung Galaxy phones caused their batteries to overheat and burst into flames apparently at random. Samsung initially blamed the batteries and replaced them, but when the new batteries also started bursting into flames the company recalled the phones entirely. The phones created a hazard when they were supposed to be safe, so the manufacturer is responsible for the damage they cause.
Sometimes a product is safe and functional in theory, but during the manufacturing process something goes wrong and the consumer is at risk. If a knife is supposed to be stainless but starts to rust because the steel manufacturer mixed the alloy wrong, then the manufacturer is responsible for the damaged knife. You also sometimes see lettuce and other fresh produce cross-contaminated with salmonella, and if that happens the distribution company that caused the cross-contamination is responsible for the illnesses that the contaminated produce causes.
Sometimes a product is perfectly good at performing one kind of task but its advertising says it can do something else. If the product can’t do the other thing and consumers buy the product for the second job, then they can sue the manufacturer for false advertising. Volkswagen famously insisted that its diesel passenger cars were better for the environment than regular gasoline cars, but when watchdogs discovered the cars were faking their way through emissions tests their customers were entitled to compensation.
Not every accident or injury involving a consumer product happens because of a defect. Still, if a product is defective then the consumer who bought it deserves compensation for the product’s value and for any injuries and damages the product causes. And if that product causes damages in southwest Florida, then the team to call is Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, and Walsh. Our legal team helps individuals get the compensation they deserve, so contact us today for a free initial case review.