Types of Product Liability

People assume the products they use are safe and will work as expected. It might be a headache medicine or the airbag in your car meant to help people.

However, there have been instances when these products have caused harm because of something wrong with them. For example, Novartis pulled Excedrin in 2012 for contamination, and Takata recalled millions of airbags in 2013 for product defects.

Recalls often happen when several incidents show there is a problem. While these prevent future harm, they don’t do anything for those who have already suffered injuries.

Recalls don’t help product defect victims get better or receive compensation for their injuries. However, a product liability claim might. Diamond and Diamond can help victims get justice for the negligence of others.

Under Florida law, the basis of product liability hinges on strict liability, negligence, breach of warranty, and similar theories. A personal injury lawyer can evaluate if you should file a product liability case. You could file a claim if you or a loved one suffered an injury because of a defective product.

Here are three types of product liability.  

Manufacturing Defects

The most common type of product liability is manufacturing defects. These happen when something goes wrong during production. The defective product may be because of a problem with the factory, components used, or the manufacturing process. If a defect is the direct cause of a personal injury, it can lead to product liability claims.

Take the case of Takata airbags. The recall of millions of cars was due to airbags deploying improperly due to a faulty seal in the inflator. They deployed too slowly, failing to protect the vehicle’s occupants during a car accident, or too fast, ejecting metal components of the airbag assembly.

You could have a personal injury claim if you sustained injuries because the airbag did not deploy properly. However, if the airbag deploys as it should, you have no case against the product manufacturer.

Pharmaceuticals also get their share of manufacturing defect issues. One example is Vioxx, a drug for relieving arthritic pain. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave Merck approval to sell it as a prescription drug in 1999.

Merck marketed it as superior to other arthritic pain medications until studies showed it caused serious heart problems. The manufacturer withdrew Vioxx from the market in 2004, but not until 88,000 sustained heart attacks and 38,000 died. Merck paid $4.85 billion to settle product liability cases.

Design Defects

Manufacturers create and follow a blueprint or product design when making a product. Design defects occur when the problem is in the formula or infrastructure of the product. The manufacturing process or end-use has nothing to do with it.

A defective design produces a whole product line with issues that can cause harm even when used correctly. That means the manufacturer is making inherently dangerous products by simply following their design.

The defect is not due to any negligence in production. However, the manufacturer may still be liable for any personal injuries due to the product’s sale and use. When strict liability applies, a distributor and seller may also come in for some share of the blame.

Defective design cases can be more complicated because the claim is that an entire product line has inherent flaws. In some cases, the manufacturer may have failed to detect certain product design risks. In others, they might not have tested the product appropriately.

In most situations, the plaintiff must show that an alternative design would have been safer.

An excellent example is the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, released in 2016. The high-end phone was much in demand after it launched but suffered a reversal in fortune when it began exploding. According to Samsung’s investigations, the issue was with the design. Lack of adequate space or insulation caused the battery to overheat or electrodes to short-circuit.

Another example involves defective medical devices, sometimes leading to long-term disability. Six manufacturers of metal-on-metal hip replacements faced numerous lawsuits because their products failed post-implantation or caused pain and metallosis. In many of these cases, the plaintiffs alleged the product manufacturer knew or should have known the products were defective.

Marketing Defects

Marketing defects occur when a manufacturer, distributor, or seller fails to warn consumers about the risks of using a product. In most cases, these types of product defects involve failing to provide adequate instructions or warnings regarding a product’s use.

Most products are safe when used as intended but might be dangerous without proper warning or instructions. It is the duty of the manufacturer or other parties in the supply chain to provide this information to consumers. This is especially important when the dangers or risks are not obvious.

Failure to provide adequate information regarding a product’s use can give rise to product liability lawsuits.  

In some cases, packaging, ads, labels, or other marketing content may state or imply certain warranties about a consumer product. When the product does not work as it should, it may constitute a breach of warranty.

Defective product cases involving marketing defects hinge on the actions of manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. A plaintiff must prove the risks were foreseeable and could have been reduced with the proper instructions or warning labels. The failure of the defendants to take that step made the product more dangerous than it should’ve been.

Pharmaceuticals often face product liability cases because they fail to warn of side effects. Sometimes, these may be because of adverse interactions with other drugs not mentioned in the contraindication warnings.

However, the best example of a successful marketing defect claim is a 2002 case against Philip Morris. Betty Bullock, a 64-year-old woman with inoperable lung cancer, filed a product liability lawsuit. She claimed the company knew about the health risks of smoking cigarettes but failed to warn the public. The court eventually ordered Philip Morris to pay $850,000 in compensatory damages and $28 million in punitive damages.  

What Types of Damages Can Injured Plaintiffs Claim?

Loss of incomeVictims of a defective product may sustain injuries that may take weeks, months, or years of recovery. That means they will not be able to work for the duration.
Reduced ability to earn incomeIn some cases, the plaintiff’s injuries may prevent them from returning to their career. Athletes, surgeons, and other professionals may no longer have the same capacity they had before using a defective product.
Medical expensesMost injuries require medical attention. Hospital bills, medications, doctor visits, rehabilitation, and therapy are some costs you can recover in a marketing defect claim.
Pain and sufferingEmotional and psychological trauma are non-physical injuries that take a toll on personal injury victims. Courts determine the damages appropriate to the situation.
DisfigurementPermanent and disfiguring scars can significantly impact a victim’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.


Pro Tip

In 1998, Dow Corning paid $3.2 billion to women affected by defective silicone breast implants.

Diamond & Diamond Lawyers Have Your Back

Most people take it for granted that consumer products are safe. However, many of these can cause injuries if you don’t use them properly. Some are inherently dangerous because of design flaws.

You have legal rights to compensation for any losses you sustain due to manufacturing defects, design flaws, or marketing defects.

However, filing a product liability lawsuit is complex, especially against big corporations. It can be fatally easy to make mistakes that can cause you to lose your claim. Our experienced team of Diamond & Diamond Lawyers can guide and advocate for you, increasing your chances of getting fair compensation.

You could get justice if you or a family member sustained injuries due to a defective product. Contact Diamond & Diamond Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation.

FAQs on Product Liabilities

A successful product liability claim requires you to prove the following four things:

  • The product is defective
  • The product defect is the immediate cause of your injuries
  • Using the product caused your injuries
  • You used the product as intended

Some of the most common types of products in product liability cases include the following:

  • Car parts
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Medical devices
  • Children’s toys
  • Home improvement tools

The theory of strict liability typically applies to defective and unreasonably dangerous products. You don’t need to show that the manufacturer, distributor, or seller was negligent or intended to cause harm.

However, you must prove a few things when building a strict product liability case. These could include one or more of the following:


  • The manufacturer, distributor, or seller could have foreseen the risks. 
  • They knew it would reach consumers in a defective form. 
  • The use of a defective product was the direct cause of the injury.

Manufacturers and distributors can be held responsible for injuries caused by a defective product. Moreover, based on strict liability, there are also some cases where you can sue the designer.

Compensation for defective products falls under the following two categories: compensatory and punitive.

Compensatory covers both economic and non-economic losses. As the name suggests, economic losses involve the amount of money lost due to the injury, such as medical expenses and property damage. On the other hand, mental and emotional distress and pain and suffering fall under non-economic damages.

Punitive damages are typically paid on top of compensatory damages. You can file claims against designers, manufacturers, and distributors if you can prove that the defendant willfully disregarded the user’s safety.

You should file a claim as soon as possible, as the statute of limitations can vary from one state to another. In fact, the limitation period can be as short as a year. Moreover, deadlines can also change depending on the type of case.