What Is a Manufacturing Defect?

First, know that there are three types of product defects:

  1. Marketing defects. These are based on the way a product was sold. The product in question wasn't necessarily defective, but the seller and/or producer mislead the consumer.
  2. Design defects. These are intentional, which means that the flaw is a key part of the product's design. However, any injuries caused by the defect may not be intentional.
  3. Manufacturing defects. Unlike a design defect, a manufacturing defect is not intended.

There are two common causes of manufacturing defects. For one thing, if the raw materials used to make something are of poor quality, the final product will be, too. The second cause is human error. If the person who put the product together was careless, relatively unskilled, or inexperienced, the product will likely be flawed.

If a manufacturing defect results in injury, the company that made the product can be liable for civil damages. While not all defective products are dangerous, ineffective products could cause manufacturers to lose money anyway. For example, a dull electric knife has no functional purpose, so the consumers who bought that product might request a refund.

How to Tell If a Product Has a Manufacturing Defect?

If you have a defective product, you can figure out whether the product in your possession has a manufacturing defect by determining if the product's flaws would exist if the product were properly put together. If a product has a design defect, it should exist in every other product made according to the plans for the product. Since a manufacturing defect is unplanned or accidental, there may be only a small percentage of products with similar defects. This will be important in a product liability case.

How Does Someone Report a Defective Product?

If you have an unsafe product in your possession, you can contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or other U.S. agencies whose responsibilities include recalling defective products that fall into certain categories. You can file a report if you and someone you know was injured by a product, especially if that product was used as intended. If there are enough reports filed about a certain product, the agency you contact will likely launch an investigation.

When a product is recalled:

  • The products with manufacturing defects are usually recalled in batches.
  • The agency alerts the public. For example, the CPSC advises consumers about the steps they need to take if they have a defective product.
  • People should stop using the products in question, so they can avoid injury.

Note that the CPSC and other agencies don't investigate all claims; manufacturers can sometimes review claims, and the agencies themselves are not responsible for forming recall plans.

How Does a Consumer Prove that a Product Has a Manufacturing Defect?

When someone sues a company for an injury caused by a consumer product, the plaintiff will need to show how the product was involved in their injury. It's quite hard to prove that a product has a manufacturing defect. Since the plaintiff is bringing the manufacturing defect case, the plaintiff has the burden of proof.

One legal doctrine that can help the plaintiff win a case is the malfunction doctrine. When presenting the case, the plaintiff must examine the manufacturer's design or marketing standards and connect it to the flaw in the product. When this principle is used in a case, the court must find that the circumstances of the incident that caused the injury point to a defective product. The plaintiff will have to eliminate other possibilities by producing evidence to that effect, even if the product is damaged or destroyed.

How Can Manufacturers Fight a Product Liability Case?

The manufacturer has two primary options to fight the product liability lawsuit in court: the modification defense or the assumption of risk defense. When the defendant uses the modification defense, the manufacturer must prove that the product was changed after it was purchased or passed on to a distributor. When the defendant uses the assumption of risk defense, the manufacturer must prove that the plaintiff was negligent or knew of the danger of engaging in an activity but proceeded anyway.

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