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Starting a Product Liability Case 101

Thousands of defective and malfunctioning products are recalled from the shelves each year, lessening the impact of harm to consumers and mitigating fault caused by a manufacturer. But what happens when an improperly functioning product causes damage to a consumer before it’s able to be recalled? Product liability cases can help those harmed by a manufacturer by demanding compensation for any injuries caused by a product.

Product Defects Leading to a Product Liability Case

A variety of injuries and damages caused by a commercial product can lead to the filing of a product liability case. Some examples of common instances that can result in product liability include:

  • Design defects: Whether a product’s design makes it inherently dangerous or misses a few key safeguards, defects can result in unexpected injuries for the operator of a device. An example of a design defect includes improperly designed automobile breaks that cause an influx of car accidents.
  • Product malfunctions: When a product doesn’t function as intended to and causes harm to its user, malfunctions can serve as grounds for product liability. A product malfunction may include a fire alarm or carbon monoxide alarm that suddenly fails to signal dangers present and results in severe injury.
  • Failures to warn: Products causing harm to consumers due to inadequate or flawed directions for assembling, handling, and/or storing can lead to liability lawsuits for the manufacturer. For example, a product containing flammable chemicals that fails to disclose instructions for proper storage can lead to fire and other disasters.

Types of Liability

A gavel on a marble surface

If you are injured as a result of using a product, you have three options for filing a liability suit against the product’s manufacturer, which include negligence, a breach of warranty, and strict liability.


Negligence occurs when a manufacturer fails to act with reasonable care to ensure that products are designed safely and function as intended. When claiming the negligence of a manufacturer, you’ll need to prove the following:

  • The manufacturer has an expectation of reasonable care to uphold when designing the product
  • The manufacturer negligently placed a dangerous or defective product into the marketplace
  • As a result of the manufacturer’s carelessness, you have suffered from damages

Breach of Warranty

When the terms and promises offered in a product’s warranty are not delivered adequately, manufacturers are held responsible in law for a breach of warranty. Whether an assurance made by a product manual, pamphlet, or advertisement, a warranty is considered to be the cause of product liability if you file a claim for compensation of harm. In the event of a breach of warranty, you must show that the product had a warranty and that it did not meet the proposed terms or promises.

Strict Liability

As the biggest threat to a manufacturer, a claim of strict liability asserts that the manufacturer of the hazardous product is liable for all damages and injuries caused. As a result, manufacturers found to be at fault for strict liability are responsible for all expenses caused by damages, including compensation for pain and suffering. To claim strict liability in a product liability lawsuit, you’ll need to demonstrate a “burden of proof,” which covers evidence of:

  • A defective product
  • A product’s defect existing at the time it was manufactured
  • Damage caused by the product’s defect

The Benefits of Hiring a Product Liability Attorney

A safe product doesn’t have manufacturing defects. But when you do encounter a defective product, you’ll want to make sure that your rights are protected in the event that you face harm. Skilled in product liability law, product liability attorneys handle each step of the claims process, from conducting thorough investigations into manufacturer negligence to recovering a fair settlement for your damages. A variety of benefits come with hiring a product liability lawyer as you navigate the law, including help with:

  • Identifying a liable party
  • Gathering evidence to support your claim
  • Accounting for all damages potentially available for compensation
  • Providing legal representation in court

How the Leav & Steinberg LLP Team Can Help

As New York City’s product liability attorneys, the team at Leav & Steinberg LLP understands how threatening defective products can be to your safety. If you’re suffering from an injury or illness caused by a defective product, it’s important that you act fast and seek legal guidance. Offering in-person meetings and at-home consultations, our firm can help you recover from damages in a way that suits your unique circumstance. To get started on your product liability claim, request your free consultation today.