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Product Manufacturing Defects

There are three types of product liability cases: A manufacturing defect, a design defect, and a marketing defect. This article will focus on product liability lawsuits regarding manufacturing defects.

A well-designed product can still harm consumers. If the company does not manufacture the product properly, the product can become dangerous or defective. Retailers sell these hazardous and defective products to consumers.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of types of product defects. Most consumers trust that they purchase safe products. They may use the product and hurt themselves if they overlook the flaw.

Unfortunately, spotting most manufacturing defects can be challenging for the average consumer. By the time they know there's a problem, they may have already suffered a severe injury or wrongful death.

This article will explain why manufacturing defects occur. It will also provide examples of manufacturing defects and explain how to pursue your product liability claim. Finally, this article will describe why it may be in your best interests to retain a product liability lawyer immediately after your injury.

How Can the Manufacturing Process Cause Defects?

Defects in manufacturing occur when a product is improperly manufactured and departs from its intended design. For example, a bottle of prescription drugs may become contaminated at a processing facility. A metal hip replacement may prematurely break because the manufacturer uses substandard materials.

Some other ways in which a consumer product can become dangerous during the manufacturing process include:

  • Improper installation of component parts
  • Poor adhesive application
  • Deviation from a product's design
  • Substitution of materials
  • Using low-quality parts
  • Failure to smooth rough, raw, and sharp edges

When dangerous products cause injuries to consumers, the manufacturer can be liable for personal injury.

It does not matter whether a product has a safe or defective design. It can become unsafe if the manufacturer doesn't make the product correctly. It may not matter how careful the manufacturer was when designing products, choosing materials, creating the assembly line, and issuing quality assurance guidelines.

Under strict liability in tort law, if a poorly manufactured product leaves the factory and causes injury when used for any intended purposes due to the defect in manufacturing, the manufacturer has to pay for any damages.

How Common Are Manufacturing Defects?

Manufacturing defects are relatively uncommon in product liability law. Design defects affect every product made. A warning defect affects every product sold, while a manufacturing defect generally affects a limited number of units produced.

Manufacturing controls and regulatory oversight at production facilities usually limit the number of defective products. Companies can easily replace faulty products with safe ones. Typically, products that are dangerous due to a manufacturing defect tend to be the ones that slip through the cracks.

Challenges in Proving Manufacturing Defects

Manufacturing defects can be challenging to prove. Suppose a car's braking system does not work correctly and causes a car accident. The car's manufacturer did not intend for the brakes to malfunction. The manufacturer was not negligent in the design of the brakes. However, the automaker can be held legally responsible under strict liability and product liability law.

The same is true for an auto manufacturer that doesn't correctly install the airbags in a fleet of automobiles. The problem may only affect a small percentage of their vehicles, but the manufacturer will be liable for any injuries caused by the defective airbags.

The Defendant May Argue the Plaintiff Was Partially at Fault

Even in strict liability cases, the manufacturer can defend itself. The company may argue that something other than the defect caused the accident. They may claim that the consumer was negligent in using the product.

A prime example of this is a car accident. Even if a car had some defect in the braking system, the defendant may argue that the driver's poor reaction to driving conditions was the actual cause of the accident. This can reduce or potentially eliminate a plaintiff's damages.

It Can Be Difficult To Prove the Actual Product Was Defective

Ideally, personal injury lawyers handling manufacturing defect cases would produce the defective product. However, this can be challenging after an accident or injury.

For example, a car may be so heavily damaged in an accident that it is impossible to prove what caused the accident to occur. These and similar circumstances can make it more difficult for plaintiffs to prove their case.

Malfunction Doctrine

Some legal doctrines can aid plaintiffs in manufacturing defect cases. For example, in some cases, a plaintiff can rely on the "malfunction doctrine" to prove causation.

Under this doctrine, if the circumstances of an accident indicate that a defect caused the accident, and the plaintiff can produce evidence that removes other possible causes, then the plaintiff can prove causation. This is true even if the product is damaged or destroyed.

Let's revisit the car accident and faulty brakes example used above. The plaintiff can potentially show that the fact that they were in an accident proves a defect in the brakes. If there were no design defects or other external factors that could have caused the accident, then there must have been a defect in manufacturing.

These cases can be challenging to prove. The product manufacturer will have an entire legal team at its disposal. The same thing is true in cases involving pharmaceutical companies. If you hurt yourself while using power tools or get injured due to a defective medical device, you'll be pursuing a company large enough to throw money at the problem. They hope you'll eventually succumb to the pressure and accept a lowball settlement.

To find out more about product liability suits and your legal options, see FindLaw's articles about Defects in Design or Defects in Warnings.

Have an Attorney Help You With Your Manufacturing Defect Claim

When things go wrong during the manufacturing process, seemingly harmless products can become dangerous. If there isn't an obvious design flaw, you'll have no idea you're in danger. It's not as if consumers consider whether every item they buy is potentially unsafe.

If you injure yourself due to a manufacturing defect, an attorney can discuss your case with you and answer any questions. Find a product liability attorney near you today.

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