When you purchase a product, you expect the product to work how the seller claimed it would work. You also expect the product to be safe for its intended purpose. Unfortunately, these assumptions are not always correct.

Millions of people are injured each year in accidents involving a variety of consumer products. Any product could potentially cause an injury. 

Examples of products that cause injury include, but are not limited to:

  • Toys
  • Household appliances
  • Furniture
  • Motor vehicles
  • Tires
  • Cell phones
  • E-Cigarettes 
  • Medical equipment
  • Makeup and personal care items
  • Medications 
  • Airbags 
  • 3M Combat Arms Earplugs

These products and others represent the bulk of product liability claims in the United States.

What is a Defective Product?

A defective product is a product that causes an injury because of a flaw in its design, manufacture, or due to insufficient warnings about its risk. The flaw makes the product unreasonably dangerous to use for its intended purpose. The product has a high risk of causing harm when a consumer uses the product according to the instructions for use. 

Product liability is a party’s legal responsibility to pay for damages caused by a defective product. Product liability claims may be based on breach of warranty, negligence, misrepresentation of facts, or strict liability. Many product liability lawsuits contain one or more causes of action, but strict liability is generally the most common basis for a product liability claim.

What is Strict Liability?

Under strict liability, a party is responsible for any damages caused by its defective product. It does not matter whether the party intended to cause an injury. The fact that the product was defective is sufficient evidence to recover compensation for damages.

Parties that could be held strictly liable for a product liability claim include:

  • The product’s designer and/or manufacturer
  • The party responsible for boxing and labeling the product 
  • The party that installs the product 
  • A party responsible for distributing the product
  • A party responsible for making component parts of the product
  • The retail seller of the product 

Identifying the cause of the defect is crucial in determining the parties who are liable for damages caused by a defective product. There are three basic types of product liability claims filed in Maryland.

Design Defects 

A design defect means that a product is inherently dangerous based on its design. A design defect also includes failing to incorporate safety devices into the product’s design to reduce the risk of injury. In many cases, the risks of using a defectively designed product outweigh the product’s potential benefits.

Manufacturing Defects 

Design defects apply to every product using that design. Manufacturing defects may only apply to specific batches or units of a product. Manufacturing defects occur during the manufacturing process. There is no issue with the product’s design. Instead, manufacturing errors caused the product to deviate from the design.

In some cases, an entire product line could be subject to a manufacturing defect. For example, a manufacturer may decide to change one of the items used to manufacture a product because it is too expensive. The manufacturer then chooses a cheaper alternative to save money, which results in the finished product containing a defect that could result in an injury. 

Marketing Defects

Marketing defects are different from design or manufacturing defects. The product may not be defective, but there could be risks associated with using the product. 

Manufacturers and sellers are required to include warnings about the risks and dangers associated with using their product. Some laws require the warnings to appear outside the product, the product’s box, and the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Marketing defects are often referred to as “failure to warn” claims. 

Damages Available for Product Liability Claims 

The type of product liability claim you file depends on the facts of your case. The damages you might receive also depend on the facts of your case. However, you can receive the same types of damages regardless of the type of product liability claim being filed.

Damages that you could recover for a product liability claim include:

  • Cost of medical treatment and personal care
  • Loss of income and benefits, including decreases in earning potential
  • Physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering
  • Disabilities and permanent impairments
  • Loss of quality of life or enjoyment of life
  • Scarring and disfigurement

If a product causes an injury, seek immediate medical attention to document your injuries. Secure the product, package, and instructions. Follow all safety measures to ensure the product cannot cause additional damage or harm. It’s also wise to contact a product liability lawyer as soon as possible.

You have just three years to file a product liability claim in Maryland. Three years sounds like a long time, but you’ll need every second you can get for a product liability claim. 

Determining the cause of the defect and obtaining evidence to prove the defect caused your injury could take a great deal of time and involve hiring experts and specialists. The sooner you acquire legal representation, the better for your case.