Clients who are injured by a product often sit down with me at an initial meeting, describe their accident and show me a feature or component of a product and ask “do I have a case?” The answer to that question most often turns on whether the product or its component can be characterized as “defective.”
Product defects fall into three general categories:
In order to further explain what is “defective,” I will discuss a product that was recalled by a large manufacturer as an example.
In November, 2009, Maclaren, USA, Inc. issued a “voluntary” recall of several models of “umbrella” style baby strollers. The strollers had exposed “shear points” at the hinges. This design defect caused twelve reported cases in which infants’ fingertips were amputated in the shear point. According to news reports, these strollers were manufactured in China and distributed by Maclaren USA, Inc.
The Maclaren baby stroller defect is a classic example of a design defect. A product is defective when it contains any component or feature which makes it unsafe for its intended use or anticipated misuse, or if it is lacking any feature necessary to make it safe. The exposed shear point obviously is a feature which makes the stroller unsafe. This is a classic “design defect” case. Related: Maclaren Stroller Recall Is Reannounced
Products are defective due to a “manufacturing defect” or “malfunction” when there is a flaw in the manufacture or construction of the particular product involved in the accident.
A hypothetical example is a lightweight aluminum product such as a bicycle handlebar. Some of these products are designed to be as light as possible. The design involves portions of the handlebars which have very thin aluminum walls. These are generally safe if the manufacturing process is perfect. However, if an air bubble, grain of sand or other impurity gets into the aluminum at a stress point, this can cause a sudden, catastrophic failure of the bar. While the design is arguably sound, the presence of the flaw in the manufacturing process of the particular item makes that product defective.
One way to prove that a product was defective is by showing that there was a lack of proper warning about the product's potentially hazardous condition. The product's warning must sufficiently notify the consumer of the dangers inherent in the product. Further, the warning must be comprehensible to the end user.
If you were injured by a defective product and would like to explore your legal options. Feel free to contact the defective products injury lawyers at White and Williams LLP for a free, initial consultation. 877.944.8396
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