Can you sue a company for a bad product? Manufacturers, designers, or sellers of products are required to ensure that products are safe for consumers. When a product is put on the market with a flaw or insufficient warnings and injures you, you have the right to file a claim for damages suffered. You could bring a product liability claim against all the companies in the chain of distribution, even if you were not the purchaser or user of the injury-causing product. Here’s more on when you can sue a company for a bad product.
What Qualifies as a Defective Product?
A defective product is any consumer product that causes injury or damage when used as intended by the manufacturer. When such a product causes harm, you can recover compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage or loss, and other damages the item caused by taking legal action. This is referred to as a product liability claim.
Some products that have commonly been found to be defective include:
- Vehicles and auto parts
- Electronics and household appliances
- Children’s products, like toys, cribs, and strollers
- Medicines and medical equipment
- Building materials
Types of Product Defects
A product defect can fall under one of the following categories:
A design defect is inherent in a product’s design, even before a product is manufactured. Design defects usually involve a whole line of products, rather than a single product.
These defects arise from mistakes made at the factory or somewhere between the factory and where you bought or utilized the product. Manufacturing defects may deviate a product from the intended design. An example of a manufacturing defect is a product missing certain parts, making it unstable and easily causing injuries.
Also known as failure to warn, marketing defects occur when a company fails to provide adequate instructions on the correct use of a product or adequate warnings on the potential adverse effects resulting from the use of the product.
Your claim will fall under one of the three types of defective product cases. Knowing the type of defect that harmed you is beneficial in the pursuit of your claim. Establishing the type of product defect that caused your injuries may require extensive research. You can make things easier for yourself by seeking the assistance of a products liability lawyer.
Can You Sue a Company for a Bad Product?
Companies have an obligation to only design and manufacture products that are safe for use and warn you of potential hazards. A company that fails to do so leaves itself open to lawsuits. If a defective product harms you, you may have grounds to sue multiple entities, depending on the circumstances of your case.
Who Is Liable in a Product Liability Claim?
One of the first steps to take when a defective product has injured you is identifying the parties that can be held liable. You will want to research all parties included in the chain of distribution. The chain of distribution is the path the product took from manufacture to the point where you received it.
Generally, you should name all the parties involved in the distribution chain as defendants in your lawsuit. Under the joint and several liability laws in Reno and the rest of Nevada, you can hold the defendants responsible jointly and individually for all your damages. If one of the companies named as defendants cannot pay up, the other defendants have to pay that company’s share of the damages.
In a product liability claim, you may sue:
The chain of distribution typically starts with the product manufacturer. Depending on the design of the defective item and the part that caused your injuries, you could sue multiple manufacturers and entities that designed the item, contributed parts, or inspected the product’s quality.
For instance, you should name the design consultants the manufacturer used in your claim if your injury resulted from a design defect. If your injury resulted from the manufacturer’s failure to warn of dangers, you should include the technical experts in charge of the user manual.
Products like vehicles, phones, and appliances have many components made by different manufacturers. If a faulty part is responsible for the product defect, you should name both the product manufacturer and the manufacturer of the defective component in your claim. For instance, if you were injured by a phone that exploded due to a defective battery, as was the case with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, you could file a claim against both the battery manufacturer and the phone manufacturer.
Wholesalers and Distributors
In the chain of distribution of the product, there are typically several middlemen, such as wholesalers, suppliers, and distributors. They may be liable when the product injures you.
Retailers may be held liable for the injuries resulting from defective products they sold, even if they didn’t play any part in the design or manufacturing of the product. The store or seller may have failed to perform due diligence to provide you with a safe product, failed to provide accurate information when you were buying the product, or knowingly sold a bad product.
You could sue the retailer even if you were not the buyer or user of the product. For example, suppose you borrowed a weed trimmer from your neighbor and a defective component, such as the head, flew loose from the tool and into your leg, or flew loose and injured you while your neighbor was using the trimmer. In that case, you may sue the store that sold the trimmer to your neighbor and other companies in the distribution chain.
When the Potential Defendants Are Corporate or Foreign Entities
If a company that manufactured, designed, or sold the bad product is a corporation, you can sue it even if it’s changed hands, names, or form. Any successor company can be named as a defendant, as it can inherit a predecessor’s liability for the defective product.
You can sue foreign companies that participated in the distribution chain of defective products. These companies are subject to the laws of the places where they conduct business.
Identifying all the companies involved in a defective product’s chain of distribution can be a complex process. All kinds of parties can have some form of connection to the product defect and be held responsible for your injuries. As a result, it’s advisable to talk to an experienced lawyer before filing a product liability lawsuit.
A lawyer will trace as many companies as possible to name as defendants in your case, helping you recover compensation for the entirety of your damages. Product liability laws vary from state to state, so that’s why you should hire a local lawyer for your claim.
The Elements of a Product Liability Claim
In product liability cases, you have to prove the following elements:
You Suffered an Injury or Loss
You can only sue a company successfully if you prove that you were injured or suffered some form of harm. A victim can’t bring a claim due to just owning or using a dangerous or defective product if the person didn’t suffer some kind of injury or loss.
For instance, you can’t sue Monsanto over the health issues caused by the glyphosate in Roundup weed killer if you haven’t suffered any Roundup-related health issues, regardless of how long you have used the product.
The Product Was Defective
You must prove that the product, its packaging, or instructions had a defect or lacked appropriate warnings.
The Defect Directly Caused Your Injury
There must be a clear link between the injury or damages in question and the defect in the product. For example, in the case of a kitchen appliance or garden tool, you can show how a design defect made it come apart and cause injuries.
You Were Using the Product Properly
You must prove that you were using the product as it was designed to be used at the time of injury. Your claim wouldn’t be valid if you were not using the product as intended when it injured you or made you ill.
Proving these elements isn’t always straightforward, making it essential to have a product liability attorney on your side. Defective product cases often require the proficiency of a technical expert to prove that the product caused your injuries.