What is a Defective Product Liability Claim?


The law requires manufacturers, distributors and retailers to ensure their products meet certain safety standards. Yet dangerous and defective products  —  from automobiles to children’s toys — still injure thousands of Americans every year. “Defects” include flaws with the product’s manufacture, design or marketing.

When a defective product injures a consumer, product liability claims provide compensation for any injuries sustained. Compensation may cover medical expenses, lost wages, loss of physical capacity and pain and suffering.

Types of product defects

A Pittsburgh defective products lawyer is prepared to handle all types of defective product claims. However, defects generally fall into one of the following categories:

  • Manufacturing defects. The product is flawed due to a problem in the construction or production of the item. For instance, a machine in the factory malfunctioned, causing glass particles to contaminate food during the packaging process.
  • Design defects. The product is inherently dangerous or defective due to its design. This means that no matter how carefully the product is made, it will never be safe for consumers. An example would include a children’s bicycle that does not include any type of braking mechanism.
  • Marketing defects. The product is not labeled or marketed properly to consumers. Common marketing defects include inadequate instructions regarding proper use, misleading product labels or insufficient warnings about the product’s possible risks.

Proving a product liability claim

Stated law governs product liability lawsuits. In Pennsylvania, a plaintiff can pursue a defective product claim under one or more of the following theories: strict liability, negligence and breach of warranty. Under Pennsylvania’s statutes of limitations, plaintiffs must generally pursue product liability claims within two years.

Strict liability is based on the premise that the supplier of a product should be the guarantor of its safety, not the consumer. It imposes liability for defective products that are unreasonably dangerous to the intended user, regardless of whether the seller has exercised all possible care in the manufacture and sale of the product. Accordingly, in order to bring a successful lawsuit, a plaintiff must only prove the following elements:

  • The product was defective
  • The defect existed at the time the product left the manufacturer’s control
  • The defect was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries

While strict liability claims impose a high burden on product manufacturer and suppliers, they can raise certain defenses. For example, under the assumption of the risk defense, a plaintiff can be barred from recovery if the plaintiff knew about a defect and yet proceeded to use it anyway. Manufacturers may also defend a product liability claim by arguing that the plaintiff failed to use the product as intended.

Topics:  Children's Products, Design Defects, Manufacturers, Manufacturing Defects, Marketing

Published In: Products Liability Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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