Lewis & Tompkins, P.C. | Maryland | Virginia | Washington, D.C.

Free Consultations

PLEASE NOTE: To protect your safety in response to the threats of COVID-19, we are offering our clients the ability to meet with us in person, via telephone or through video conferencing. Please call our office to discuss your options.

Establishing responsibility in a products liability action

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2022 | Defective Products & Consumer Protection

Whether it is something you purchased yourself or received as a gift, you expect the product to work properly and as it was designed to work. Unfortunately, some products fail to work properly, consistently or at all. While this is a frustrating matter, it could also give rise to unsafe situations. A defect could result in harm and injury to the consumer, resulting in a product liability action.

Types of product defects

There are three types of product defects. The first is design defects. This occurs when the defect has been present in the product from the very beginning because the design of the product was inherently unsafe prior to its manufacturing.

The second type is a manufacturing defect, which is when a defect in the product occurred during the manufacturing or assembling of the product. The final type is a marketing defect. This is when there are flaws in the way the product is marketed, which includes the improper labeling of the product, insufficient instructions for the product or inadequate warnings concerning the product.

Establishing responsibility

If a defect is determined to be the cause of a consumer injury, responsibility needs to be established when moving forward with a product’s liability action. There are two ways to evidence responsibility in these matters.

The first is through the doctrine of “res ipsa loquitur,” or “the thing speaks for itself.” This asserts that the defect could only exist if someone was negligent. Whether it is the designer, manufacturer, marketer or seller, this puts the burden on them to prove that they were not negligent.

The second is through strict liability. If this rule applies, one does not need to prove negligence but rather that the product was defective.

No matter how much trust a consumer has in a company, manufacturer or product, defects could always happen. As such, they should be prepared to understand their rights when it comes to holding a negligent or liable party accountable for the harms and damages suffered. A product liability action could result in a compensation award, which could be utilized to address losses and injuries suffered because of a defective product.