Product Liability Cases in Washington

If you have been injured as a result of a defective product, then you may have a compensable product liability case. What does this mean? Product liability is a specialized area of tort law, or the law of personal injuries. When a manufacturer, retailer, wholesaler or distributor of a product has been negligent, and that negligence causes injury, the victim may be entitled to compensation for those injuries by pursuing a product liability case. Along with compensating the victim, product liability litigation brings public awareness to dangerous products and often results in safer products for all consumers.

Product liability lawsuits are typically based on one of three theories of liability–design defects, manufacturing defects, or failure to warn. If negligence is found based on any of the three theories, the victim may be entitled to compensation.

Design defects are sometimes referred to as “planned defects.” This is not because the manufacturer actually planned the defect, but because the defect was created during the planning process. In other words, the defect is inherent in the design itself. As a result, all of the products manufactured with that design will have the same defect. Imagine, for example that a vehicle manufacturer designed the gas pedal of a car in a way that caused the pedal to stick in the acceleration position when used. Because the defect is in the actual design of the pedal itself, all of the cars with that pedal design will have the same problem.

In contrast to a design defect, a manufacturing defect is caused when something goes wrong during the manufacture of the product. In other words, had the product been manufactured as planned, there would have been no defect. Using the gas pedal example above, imagine that a machine used in the manufacturing process was not calibrated correctly and caused some of the pedals to be defective as a result. The defect then caused them to stick. Not all cars manufactured with that pedal design are defective– only those manufactured while the machine was incorrectly calibrated.

The third type of product liability case is somewhat different from the other two. Failure-to-warn cases, as the name implies, are based on the duty to warn of inherent dangers. Some products are dangerous no matter how safe the manufacturer tries to make them. When a product cannot be made safe, consumers must be warned of the risks associated with the product. These products are likely to be found all over your home. The bleach you use to whiten clothes can kill you if swallowed and can make you very sick if inhaled. There is no way to make bleach safe to swallow or inhale; therefore, a warning must be included on the product explaining the dangers. If an adequate warning is not included on an inherently dangerous product, it may give rise to a failure-to-warn product liability lawsuit. The failure to warn prong of the products liability act also includes a provision for faulty or inadequate instructions. In a way it’s a fourth theory of liability but it is considered part of the inadequate warnings prong.

If you have been injured by what you believe to be a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation for those injuries. Of course, you do not need to know which of the three types of product liability cases your injuries fall under, you just need to hire a Washington State product liability attorney like the attorneys at Mariano Morales Law. Contact the team at Mariano Morales Law today by calling (509) 853-2222.