FAQs

Product Liability

What is Product Liability?
Product liability is legal liability by a manufacturer, distributor, retailer, or wholesaler because of injury, death, or damages resulting from the use of a product, such as a machine, pharmaceutical, equipment, or automobile. Typically, product liability arises from a design defect, manufacturing defect, or failure to warn.

How do I know if a product was defective?
That is a good question and one that takes special skill and experience to answer. Sometimes common sense is the best indicator of whether a product is defective. You should ask yourself, “Should the product have performed and failed to perform in the manner in which it should have?” But product liability is often extremely difficult to pinpoint. For instance, a car manufacturer may have designed a vehicle that is unreasonably prone to rollovers, but that won’t necessarily be obvious in the event of an accident. Or a pharmaceutical company may make a painkiller that increases the risk of heart attacks, but the connection certainly won’t be evident to the average consumer. Should you suspect that your injuries or the injuries of a loved one were caused by a defective product, the best course of action is to consult an attorney who specializes in these types of cases, such as Paulson & Nace. They will be able to tell you if they think you have a case.

What kind of defects can cause product liability?
There are three types of product defects:

Design Defect: A product has a design defect if the design (or blueprints) of the product is unsafe. For example, if a coffee cup is designed so that the bottom melts whenever there is a hot liquid in it, it has a design defect.

Manufacturing Defect: A product has a manufacturing defect if its design is sound but the method of making the product is unsafe. For example, if a desk is mistakenly assembled at the factory without the screws specified in the design, it has a manufacturing defect.

Failure to Warn: If a product does not have sufficient instructions or warnings about its use, and you are injured as a result, there is a failure to warn. For example, if you buy a lawn mower that doesn’t have safety warnings about the blade, and the blade cuts you, the manufacturer has failed to warn you adequately about the dangers involved in using the lawn mover.

Who is liable for a defective product?
If a product does not work properly or causes harm to the user, then any of the companies involved in getting the product from inception to consumer, including the designer, the manufacturer, and the distributor, wholesaler, or reseller, may be liable.