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Manufacturing Defects

Products constructed with well-intentioned designs can still cause unintentional injury to users or consumers.  Furthermore, manufacturing defects, on average, tend to exist in a limited amount of a product’s line rather than its entirety.  A manufacturing defect occurs when a product is improperly manufactured and strays away from its original intended design, regardless of the manufacturer’s quality assurance or research and development.  

Definition of Manufacturer Defect

As per its name, these defects occur during the manufacturing phase of a product.  For instance, a vehicle’s engine cooling fan that breaks resulting in the vehicle to overheat or a bottle of medicine that is contaminated at the processing facility.  Any manufacturing defect that causes an injury or harm to the end user can give rise to a product liability lawsuit.  

How Manufacturing Defects Occur

Normally, manufacturer controls and quality assurance oversight limit the number of defective products that reach the consumer.  Occasionally, a poorly manufactured product will slip through a manufacturer’s quality assurance systems and into the hands of consumers; which will in turn lead to manufacturer defects.  Sometimes a manufacturer defect can be eliminated altogether with the implementation of higher quality materials or a more precautious assembly line.  If an injury incurring issue is still present, whether or not the product in question is well-built, then the product issue is more likely a design defect than a manufacturing defect.

Unlike design defects, which affects every product made, a manufacturing defect is one that the manufacturer did not intentionally make.  As such, it matters not how many preventative measures the manufacturer took in terms of material, design, or quality assurance guidelines.  Once a poorly manufactured product leaves the factory and an injury is incurred when the product is used for any of its intended purposes due to a defect in manufacturing, the manufacturer will be found liable to compensate the consumer(s) for any injuries.  This is a legal principle known as strict liability.  

Proving a Manufacturer Defect

Manufacturing defects can be challenging to prove that they are the actual and proximate cause of an accident.  Often, a plaintiff’s individual action could be contributed to the cause of an accident; therefore, the defendant will usually argue that the plaintiff’s injury was caused by self infliction and not a manufacturer defect.  

Imagine, for example, there is a collision between two vehicles in which the plaintiff ended up crashing into the rear end of another vehicle due to a failure within the braking system.  However, the results of a vehicular collision reconstruction alleges that the plaintiff’s vehicle was going 85 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone. The latter contributing factor to the plaintiff’s injury could make proving their case more complicated.  Even if the vehicle’s braking system has a defect, the defendant could strongly argue that the driver’s ability to react was greatly decreased due to the circumstances of the accident.  The aforementioned factors could prove to eliminate or sharply reduce a plaintiff’s argument for the case.

In cases pertaining to a manufacturer defect, it is up to the plaintiff to retain and present the defective product that caused the injury.  However, in certain circumstances, the product could be so badly damaged that it is impossible for it to be evaluated in whether or not it malfunctioned.  Whether it be a totalled vehicle from an accident or an incinerated smartphone due to an explosion, circumstances like these can complicate a plaintiff’s efforts in proving their case.

Malfunction Doctrine

Under the “malfunction doctrine” plaintiff’s, in certain jurisdictions, can rely on this to prove causation for their manufacturer defect case.  This doctrine allows plaintiffs to present that the circumstances of an injury indicate that the manufacturer defect caused the accident. Once the plaintiff establishes the injury was related to a product’s malfunction and they can provide evidence that eliminates other possible causes, then the plaintiff can prove causation even if the product is too damaged to be evaluated.

Here are a few examples in which the malfunction doctrine may be applicable:

  • Referring back to the vehicle accident from above.  The plaintiff could argue the fact they were in an accident proves that the braking system has a manufacturer defect with in it. 
  • A smart phone explodes in the plaintiff’s hand due to a faulty battery and causes bodily injury.  Under the “malfunction doctrine,” the plaintiff may present the explosion of the smartphone itself to establish fault.
  • A four-legged chair which buckles after time that, because of a mistake during a single shift at the factory, was assembled without an important screw that strengthens one of the legs.

Contact Us for Help

We are happy to help with your questions and discuss your claim to help you decide if your case is worth pursuing in courts.  Call the Gallagher Law Firm at (888) 222-7052 or click here to contact us online

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