How Do You Prove a Product Was Defective?

There are millions of products in the marketplace, where consumers and businesses can find practically whatever they need for their lives or operations. The right of product makers to tap this valuable marketplace comes with the responsibility to only produce products that are reasonably safe and free of dangerous defects. 

When a defective product causes injuries or fatalities, the product manufacturer may be liable for paying damages. But your product liability attorney will first need to prove that the product was defective.

What is a defective product?

Legally speaking, a defective product in the context of personal injury cases is more than a product that does not work correctly. It is a product that suffers from one of three types of defects: 

  • Manufacturing defect
  • Design defect
  • Defective or missing instructions or warnings

These defects arise due to no fault of the consumer. Product makers are solely responsible for their defective products and are held strictly liable when they harm others. 

Strictly liable means there is no legal requirement to prove that the product maker’s actions were negligent or otherwise unlawful. Product makers may also be held liable under a theory of breach of warranty for defective products.

How do you prove a product was defective?

Although victims may not need to prove negligence in a product liability case, they still must demonstrate that the product that harmed them was defective. This is done by gathering evidence of the defect.

Evidence of Manufacturing Defects

Proving that a product has a manufacturing defect requires identifying the specific defect that caused the product to fail and cause injury. 

For example, if an injured party alleges that a manufacturing defect of a ladder led to their fall, they must demonstrate the precise defect. Perhaps it is an improperly assembled ladder, or the material used in its construction was below standard. 

Evidence of Design Defects

A design defect, on the other hand, precedes manufacturing and will manifest itself during the manufacturing process. In other words, it is a defect that is inherent in every product manufactured according to design specifications. 

Proving that a design is defective generally requires the use of expert witnesses who use lab, product-testing, and product-comparison data to prove design defects. 

For example, a power tool may be designed in such a way that it can’t be used in a reasonably safe manner. Perhaps a shut-off switch is too close to a blade or non-existent when one should be. Testing and product comparisons can determine the answer.

Evidence of Inadequate Instructions or Warnings

The third type of product liability defect deals with warnings and instructions. You’ve seen warning labels and instructions accompany most products you buy. They are there to warn consumers of potential dangers and to protect product makers from liability. 

Instructions and warnings must be reasonably clear and directly address any dangers that might arise out of the foreseeable use of a product. For instance, a hotplate manufacturer should include specific operation instructions relating to the turning on, safe operation, and storage of the product. 

Warnings related to electrocution, burns, and other foreseeable dangers should be addressed directly and clearly. 

Defective Product Liability

When it comes to liability for defective products, various parties may be held liable. For a manufacturing defect, the manufacturer may be held liable. But other parties may be held responsible as well. A distributor who knows of manufacturing defects yet continues to distribute a product can face a claim for damages, as may a retailer.

The same principle holds true with the two other types of defects. A retailer who becomes aware of a design defect yet continues to sell a defectively dangerous product can also be held liable for personal injury damages. 

Get Help With Product Liability Issues Today

If you have been injured by a defective product in California, consulting an experienced product liability lawyer is vital. At Saeedian Law Group, our seasoned personal injury team represents consumers and businesses in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills affected by injuries related to defective products and other accidents. 

Contact our office for a free case review to find out what we can do for your case today.