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Did I Misuse a Product or Was It Defective?

If you recently incurred injury while using a product, you may wonder if you have legal grounds for a product liability claim. Injuries involving the products we use every day fall under the realm of product liability law. In certain instances, you may be able to collect damages to pay for medical bills, compensate for lost wages, and provide compensation for intangible losses such as pain and suffering. This applies when:
Someone manufactured or sold you a defective product

  • A defect led to your injuries
  • You were using the product as intended

It’s important to realize that just because you incurred injury while using a product doesn’t mean it was defective. If you were using a product in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and suffered injury, it’s more likely the product was defective. If, however, you were not using a product in a way the manufacturer suggested (or in a way that wouldn’t be obvious to an average consumer), a manufacturer might not be liable for damages.

Kinds of Product Liability

There are several ways in which a product might be defective. You might be eligible to file a product liability claim if your case falls under one of three common scenarios:

A Defect in Manufacture

Perhaps the most obvious type of product liability claim occurs when a defect in the manufacture of a product leads to injury. With this type of defect, a product may be defective because of an error made in its production. A manufacturer defect does not affect an entire line of products, but only a few. Examples include:

  • A batch of applesauce tainted with E.coli
  • A slide with a cracked installation bracket

Inherent Flaws in Design

With the next type of product defect, you may incur injury because a product has a flaw in the design and was inherently dangerous. In other words, the product was defective even though it was manufactured in accordance with its specifications. Examples of design defects include:

  • A vehicle prone to rolling over
  • Sunglasses without UV protection

Failure to Warn or Instruct

In this final type of product liability claim, poor or inadequate instructions led to injury. This is often where the line between product misuse and product defect becomes blurred. A manufacturer must provide explicit instructions about a product’s use – both how you must use it and its intended purpose. A failure to warn claim typically involves some danger that’s not immediately obvious to the average user. Examples include:

  • Failing to warn about the corrosive nature of a cleaning agent
  • Failure to disclose all the side effects of a medication.

Again, effectively establishing a product liability claim against a manufacturer relies on the idea that you were using it as intended. For example, if you were using an electric tool in the rain against manufacturer warning and endured electrocution as a result, the manufacturer would likely not be liable for damages.

Product liability law can be confusing, which is why it’s important to hire an attorney to protect your best interests. Knowing the difference between misusing a product and failure to warn is essential to your claim.