A manufacturing defect can provide the basis for a product liability lawsuit. Nearly any consumer good can be manufactured in a way that was not intended such that the product becomes unreasonably dangerous or likely to inflict serious. For instance a chair can be manufactured with improper materials that significantly weakens it strength increasing the risk of a fall due to a chair collapse. In other cases a hair dryer may be designed properly but the materials used in the heating coils may be other than what the specifications called for resulting in excessive heat that causes severe burns to the scalp and head of the user.These and other injuries due to a manufacturing defect can be serious, life-changing injuries. A plaintiff, however, must meet a high burden of proof to convince a judge and/or jury to award compensation. Working with an experienced product defect lawyer, such as the lawyers of Reiff & Bily, can increase the likelihood that you will be able to carry this burden and convince a judge or jury to award compensation for your life-altering injuries.
What Is a Manufacturing Defect?A manufacturing defect is one type of problem that can exist with a manufactured product that is sold to the public. Other common product liability actions that are related to manufacturing defects include design defects and failure to warn concerns. However, a manufacturing defect occurs when a product is built or otherwise manufactured in some way differently than how the plans specify. The difference in how the product was manufactured makes the product dangerous for its intended uses. Examples of manufacturing defects could include:
- A tire that is manufactured with an improper rubber composition that makes the tire prone to blow-outs at high speeds.
- A frozen food product that erroneously contains a hazardous chemical likely has a manufacturing defect
- A car or truck with a gas pedal that sticks causing unintended acceleration due to an improperly manufactured part.
- A soda bottle that is manufactured with a thinner layer of glass than specifications call for making the bottle more likely to explode under pressure.
Understanding Pennsylvania’s Product Liability LawsIn most states, product liability actions are quite different than the classic negligence action that many people may be somewhat familiar with. Rather, product liability actions proceed under a modified strict liability framework in Pennsylvania. Unlike in a negligence action, one does not have to prove that the company’s actions fell below expected standards for behavior. Rather, an injured party must simply show that the product was defective. The conduct of the manufacturer and whether they were negligent in manufacturing the good is not a core element of a product liability action.Pennsylvania’s handling of strict liability actions is rather unique among the states. While many states have moved towards the approach set forth in the 3rd Restatement of Torts, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has taken a unique approach. In Tincher v. Omega Flex, Inc. the court overruled the longstanding 1978 standard set forth in Azzarello v. Black Bros. Co. Today in Pennsylvania, the court approaches strict liability issues through a consumer expectation and risk-utility approach. Under a consumer expectations approach the inquiry centers around what a reasonable consumer would expect regarding the safety of the product. The risk-utility approach to a defective product weighs the risk of harm against the product’s uses and the costs of taking precautions to avoid it. Under the Tincher standard, an injured plaintiff must show that they can satisfy at least one of these approaches to product liability actions.
Questions a Judge or Jury May Have Regarding Your Defective Product InjuryJudges and juries will likely need explanations for numerous contingencies. Questions asked about your injury due to a defectively manufactured product might include:
- What were the precise circumstances of the accident?
- What was the severity of the injury inflicted?
- Has the injury persisted? What effects has it had on the individual’s ability to independently complete tasks and live?
- Could a person of average intelligence have made the same mistake under similar circumstances?
- What were the other possible causes of the accident/injury? Can the plaintiff prove that a manufacturing defect and not one of those other causes was in fact directly or indirectly responsible for damages?
- Did the injured person contribute to causing his or her own injury?