The Three Types of Product Defects

These days, people expect that when they purchase a product, whether it is a toy, tool, food, medicine, or electronic device, that it will function as they expect it to function. They do not expect it to break, and they certainly do not expect it to hurt them. And yet, every year thousands of Americans are injured by products they believed to be safe to use as intended, resulting in a product liability suit. Generally speaking, the law recognizes three kinds of product defects that can result in a lawsuit:

Design Defect

A design defect is a flaw with a product that is an intrinsic part of how it was designed. These kinds of product defects might be because it was made with shoddy materials that broke when placed under ordinary stress. Or, instead, the materials might be toxic, causing anyone who used it to get sick. It might also be the result of parts not fitting together correctly, causing them to fall apart while being used. Or a product might have unshielded moving parts that people’s body parts can get stuck inside, resulting in injury.

When a product has a design defect, it typically means that every product of its type carries a similar defect. This means that a product with a design defect is unlikely to have only one victim, but multiple people who suffer similar issues. Manufacturers have a duty to ensure these sorts of defects are discovered before they go out to the market, and can be held liable if they are not found and corrected in time.

Manufacturing Defect

Rather than an entire product line having a design flaw, a specific product might instead have a manufacturing defect. These are product defects that refer to any defect that is not inherent to the product itself, but is instead the result of something going wrong during the process of making or transporting the product. For example, a chair might be built with a cracked leg that collapses when a person’s weight is placed on it, or some meat might become accidentally tainted by rat poison used in the meatpacking plant where it was packaged.

Manufacturing defects, unlike design defects, tend to be unique to each individual unit. This means the product itself is fine for everyone else, but you were just unlucky in getting the defective one. However, manufacturers and distributors are still liable for harm caused by these defective units, since manufacturing defects are supposed to be discovered as part of a quality assurance process.

False or Misleading Advertising

Finally, the last kind of product defect is not a “defect” in the same sense as the other two. Nothing is wrong with the product itself: it functions as intended and does not have any tainted or damaged components. However, when a product is marketed with false or misleading advertising, it can still cause harm. This happens by unintentionally convincing people that a product can be used for something it is not intended to do, resulting in harm.

For example, an electronic device might be advertised with someone using it in the shower, even though the device is not waterproof and is not intended to be used near or in water. Another example might be a product claiming it has certain health benefits it has not been proved to provide, such as certain foods claiming they can help you lose weight. Alternatively, a makeup commercial might use digital editing to touch up a model’s face, misrepresenting the effect the makeup will have.

False or misleading advertising is a problem because it can convince people to use products in ways they were not intended, resulting in damage to the product or harm to its user. It could also create false expectations for the product’s user, causing them to believe they will see benefits that those products have no way of guaranteeing. Either way, customers suffer when products are falsely or misleadingly advertised, and they can potentially sue as a result.

Defective product cases are complex, and defendants, particularly large corporations, often have vast legal resources. To ensure you receive fair compensation, you need the experience of a personal injury attorney with a long-standing and proven record of delivering justice to their clients. Contact the New York City and Long Island office of Levine & Slavit, PLLC and schedule your consultation today.

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