9 Jun, 2023

Types of Defective Product Cases

Author Todd A. Strong

When a product injures you because of a design, manufacturing, or marketing defect, you can seek compensatory damages from the at-fault party. Economic and non-economic damages are the most common types of damages recovered in product liability claims.

Economic damages are the tangible monetary losses you suffered from the defective product. They include past medical costs incurred, future medical expenses, lost wages, decreased earning capacity if you can’t work in your pre-injury capacity, and property damage costs. Non-economic damages compensate you for the non-monetary losses you suffered from the harm caused by the product. These include pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, and reduced quality of life.

Statue of lady justice with scales. Concept of types of defective product cases
Statue of lady justice with scales. Concept of types of defective product cases

How Does a Product Qualify for a Product Liability Claim?

Product liability is the legal responsibility of any or all parties in a product’s chain of distribution to compensate victims for the injuries they cause. Product liability claims arise when product defects harm consumers. For you to file a successful product liability claim in Peoria, you’ll need to establish that a product had an unreasonably dangerous defect, the defect existed when the product left its manufacturer’s control, and it caused your injury.

You can only recover damages if you prove that the product that caused your injury was defective or dangerous. A defective product is one that fails to perform as intended or reasonably expected, posing potential harm to its users. Learn more about the three main types of product defects on which product liability claims are based below.

Design Defect Claims

Design defect claims allege a product’s design is inherently dangerous. A product has a design defect if it has an error or flaw in its design that makes it hazardous to users. Design defects make products unsafe even when perfectly manufactured according to the required specifications and used as intended. Because the problem is present at the earliest phases of a product’s development, the defect affects an entire line of products using that design.

When a design defect exists, it can be shown that there is a better and safer design alternative that the manufacturer could have used that is economically feasible and still maintain the product’s practical usage. The assistance and testimony of an expert witness are often needed in these claims to prove that a product’s design was inherently defective and caused the harm you suffered. A product liability lawyer can boost your claim by knowing the right technical expert to call upon to help verify the error in the product’s design.

Failure to conduct adequate testing, meet current industry and safety standards, or provide important safety features are common causes of design defects. A design defect claim can arise from an airbag that’s been manufactured according to specifications but doesn’t deploy properly, causing injuries like burns. In such a case, you could seek compensation for airbag burns and other injuries and losses from the manufacturer or designer. For example, Takata supplied airbags with defective inflators to nearly two dozen automakers. The airbags have been linked to more than 20 deaths and 400 injuries.

Design defect claims can also apply in the following instances:

  • Children’s toys that present choking hazards
  • Surgical mesh devices made of synthetic material that causes erosion and organ perforation
  • A car with a top-heavy design that poses a significant rollover accident risk
  • Ladders, stands, and other items that don’t support the weight advertised or indicated on their labels

Manufacturing Defect Claims

If a manufacturing defect forms the basis of your case, you’re claiming that a defect happened at the factory or plant where an item was produced. A manufacturing defect occurs when an error occurs during the manufacturing or assembly process, causing a product to deviate from the manufacturer’s original or intended design. The deviation makes the product potentially hazardous to use. Manufacturing defects generally affect individual products or a small percentage of the final products or units produced, rather than an entire product line.

A product with a manufacturing defect could have a design that’s inherently safe, but something that happens between the beginning of the manufacturing process and the time the item reaches you makes it unsafe. A manufacturing defect can arise for several reasons, including the use of incorrect materials, negligent quality control or hiring of employees, faulty machine operation, and poor sanitation.

A manufacturer could be held liable if a product with manufacturing defects causes an injury to a consumer. Product liability claims examples in which you can pursue a manufacturing defect case include injuries resulting from a contaminated batch of drugs, defective automobile parts like brakes and seatbelts that don’t affect other vehicles of the same make and model, and an item with a missing or broken part or held together by wrongly sized screws or bolts.

Marketing Defect Claims

In product liability claims focusing on marketing defects, injury victims allege that they weren’t adequately or appropriately warned of a product’s inherent or possible dangers. A product can be marketed incorrectly by having false labeling or insufficient usage instructions or safety warnings. Such a product may be deemed to have a marketing defect. Products can still be defective and unsafe for use, even if they were manufactured properly and have no design flaws.

Without proper warnings or instructions, you could misuse a product or hurt yourself. Manufacturers have a duty to provide clear, specific, and comprehensible warnings on the dangers of a product. They should also instruct users on how to use products safely and avoid dangers. Manufacturers should also consider the foreseeable uses and misuses and provide warnings or instructions about the risks involved.

A lawyer can help you win a claim based on marketing defects, even if a product had warnings or instructions, by presenting evidence to show that the warnings or instructions were unclear, ambiguous, or not appropriately located. A company can also be held liable even if you were misusing its product if you show that you were using the product in a reasonably foreseeable way. Therefore, it’s crucial to know how to find the right product liability lawyer for your case.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed against manufacturers of hair relaxers due to marketing defects in the products. Some ingredients in these products have been linked to certain types of cancers. Women who’ve been diagnosed with these cancers after using the products for an extended period have been filing product liability lawsuits against the manufacturers for failing to warn them of the potential negative effects of their products. Here are some other situations where marketing defect cases can arise:

  • Drugs without adequate adverse side effect warnings
  • Equipment sold without user manuals
  • Power tools without safety instructions
  • Food product without a warning that it contains an allergen
  • Chemical products sold with insufficient instructions for safe handling

When Should a Product Defect Claim Be Filed in Peoria?

A statute of limitations dictates how long you have to file a product liability claim. In Peoria, Chicago, and Illinois in general, the statute of limitations for product liability claims based on personal injury is two years from the date you suffered the injury. The statute of limitations for property damage claims is five years.

The statutory deadlines in product liability cases can be complicated. For example, if you didn’t discover the injury resulting from the product defect until a later date, the discovery rule may apply to your case. According to the discovery rule, the start date of the statute of limitations is when you discovered or reasonably should have discovered your injuries. As a result, you’ll have to bring your product liability case within two years of the date when you knew or reasonably should have known of the injury.

The discovery rule commonly applies to cases involving defective medical devices and drugs. Additionally, a statute repose sets the ultimate deadline for filing product liability claims, which is 10 years from the first lease, sale, or delivery of the product to the initial consumer or 12 years from the first lease, sale, or delivery of the product by a seller.

To determine the deadlines that apply to your situation and avoid losing your right to compensation, discuss your case with a product liability attorney soon after your injury occurs.

Types of Damages That Can Be Recovered in a Product Liability Claim

When a product injures you because of a design, manufacturing, or marketing defect, you can seek compensatory damages from the at-fault party. Economic and non-economic damages are the most common types of damages recovered in product liability claims.

Economic damages are the tangible monetary losses you suffered from the defective product. They include past medical costs incurred, future medical expenses, lost wages, decreased earning capacity if you can’t work in your pre-injury capacity, and property damage costs. Non-economic damages compensate you for the non-monetary losses you suffered from the harm caused by the product. These include pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, and reduced quality of life.

In some product liability cases, punitive damages may be awarded to punish companies for reckless conduct, such as continuing to advertise or sell products they knew were dangerous for consumers. Thorough investigations are essential for accurately establishing all the damages you qualify for and obtaining the compensation you need.

About The Author

Photo of Todd A. Strong
Illinois workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer Todd A. Strong is the founder of Strong Law Offices in Peoria, Illinois. Todd brings considerable legal knowledge, experience, and skill to the table to ensure injured victims throughout the state are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.