video calls availableFree Consultation
Request Free Consultation

How to Determine if a Product is Defective

Request Free Consultation
Posted on February 10, 2023

Most consumers believe the products we commonly buy and use have passed rigorous safety standards and we feel safe using them, but according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 11.7 million injury victims sought emergency room treatment for injuries related to products in 2021. While it’s clear that some products are inherently dangerous—think of chainsaws, ladders, and welding equipment—we rarely consider a child’s toy, a bed, or a television set as a danger, yet people sustain injuries from these common products every day. If you’ve been injured while using a product, you may be wondering if you have the grounds for a defective product claim. How do you determine if a product is defective by liability standards?

What are the Four Categories of a Defective Product?

A product is defective if it poses a danger to those who use it. There are four categories that defective products typically fall under in liability law:

  • The product has a design flaw, assembly error, or manufacturing defect making it unsafe
  • The product doesn’t have adequate instructions for proper use
  • The product’s warning label is inadequate
  • The product isn’t fit for its intended purpose

When a product fits one of the above qualifications, the injured victim can take legal action to recover the damages caused by their injury.

Design Flaws in Defective Products

When investigating some defective product injuries, it becomes clear the design itself renders the product dangerous for use. If the flaw that caused the injury is present in every model of the item or the entire line, it’s clear that there is an inherent flaw in the original design of the item that was overlooked or ignored by the designer and manufacturer. The product can cause injury even when the product is used as directed.

Assembly Errors and Manufacturing Defects

In some cases, the design of a product is faultless and when properly assembled and manufactured the item works safely and as intended, but still caused harm due to a manufacturing defect. This could be a problem that occurred at the manufacturing stage such as a lower-quality material causing a malfunction, or a problem at the assembly stage, such as a worker on the line accidentally leaving out a screw while assembling the product. In this case, the manufacturer is liable for any injury caused by the product.

Marketing Problems Including Inaccurate Labels

In some cases, a product is defective at the marketing level and causes an injury. This occurs when a product’s packaging does not include adequate instructions for safe use, resulting in a consumer using the product in a way that causes an injury that wouldn’t have occurred had the instructions been more complete, thorough, and accurate. 

Marketing problems also contribute to a defective product accident when it doesn’t have adequate warning labels. If a consumer uses a product in a way that the manufacturer could have reasonably predicted and the package failed to properly warn against using it that way, the manufacturer or marketing company could be held liable.

What to Do if You’ve Been Injured by a Product

If you’ve experienced an accident from a product you feel is defective, the following steps can help protect your physical and economic future:

  • Seek medical attention immediately, leaving the product in place
  • Follow all of your doctor’s instructions and ask for a detailed medical report
  • Ask a trusted loved one to take photos of the product and the accident scene or photograph it yourself after your emergency treatment
  • Preserve the product or what’s left of the product
  • Keep your proof of purchase
  • Contact a personal injury attorney with experience and a successful track record in defective product claims

When you’ve been injured by a product you used in good faith, you have the right to seek compensation for the economic damages caused by your medical treatment and missed work days as well as for your pain and suffering.