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Three Types of Defects

Product liability lawsuits recover damages for consumers injured or killed by dangerous defects.In general, there are three types of defects which may render a manufacturer, distributor or supplier liable for damages to injured consumers:

Design Defects

If you claim that the product was designed in an unsafe manner, prepare for a big, long and costly battle -- particularly if the manufacturer is a large company with high financial stakes on the line. In design defect cases, aggrieved consumers claim that an entire product line is unreasonably dangerous and that the dangers presented outweigh the usefulness of the product. For this reason, if even one consumer prevails, the manufacturer may lose far more than the damages awarded in a single lawsuit.  Because these battles involve very high stakes, defective design lawsuits are often handled as class actions on behalf of a large number of consumers who were adversely affected.

Manufacturing Defects

Of course, one rotten apple doesn't necessarily spoil the entire basket. In many cases, products may be designed safely, but are made in an unsafe manner. Sometimes, the materials used to make all products are unsturdy or defective. But, in other cases, a glitch in the manufacture of one batch of goods could render it harmful.  In the latter situation, the stakes are much lower for the manufacturer because the claim does not attack the entire product line.

Inadequate Warnings or Instructions

Even flawless products that are designed and manufactured correctly may present hazards if they fail to instruct consumers on their safe operation, or fail to warn them of the dangers of improper use. These types of products liability cases have led to a proliferation of warning labels that occasionally insult the intelligence of consumers who may already know that scalding hot coffee can burn you. Yet, aside from the labels that are often cited to criticize these tort cases, there are many products that are prone to misuse without the correct instructions and warnings. When manufacturers and suppliers ignore such foreseeable and dangerous misuses, they may be held liable for the resulting injury.