We use commercially made products daily, and it is possible for these products to cause an injury. While in some cases this injury is a result of an accident, in others it is the result of a defective product. Understanding what constitutes a defective product is important if you want to pursue a product liability claim. So what is considered a defective product in California? In California, a defective product is generally characterized as a product with any sort of imperfection or fault in the product’s manufacturing, design, or labeling that poses an unreasonable risk to consumers when used as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner. Here, we will provide insights into what is considered a defective product in California and how it can lead to personal injury claims.
What Is a Defective Product in California?
In California, the definition of a defective product is any product that poses an unreasonable risk to consumers when used as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner. Defects can occur at various stages of a product’s development, including design, manufacturing, or marketing. The three types of product defects recognized in California law are explored below.
Manufacturing defects occur during the manufacturing process and are specific to a particular product or batch. They deviate from the intended design or specifications and may result from errors in materials or workmanship. For example, a product may be damaged or not assembled correctly during the manufacturing process. Manufacturing defects typically affect only a limited number of products within a larger production run.
Design defects are inherent to the product’s design and affect all items produced based on that design. In other words, the flaw is present in every unit made according to the unsafe design. A design defect can make the entire product line unreasonably dangerous, even if it was manufactured correctly. The only way to correct the defect is to change the design.
Failure to Warn
These defects relate to inadequate warnings, instructions, or labeling. A product may be safe when used as intended, but if it lacks proper warnings about potential risks or instructions on safe use, it can still be considered defective under California law. Failure to provide adequate instructions or warnings can make a manufacturer liable for injuries caused by foreseeable misuse.
What Are Types of Defective Products?
Defective products can span various categories. Types of defective products include, but are not limited to:
- Automobiles and vehicle parts. Defective vehicles or automotive parts, such as faulty brakes, airbags, or tires, can lead to accidents and injuries.
- Pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Defective drugs, medical implants, or equipment can cause serious harm to patients.
- Consumer electronics. Faulty batteries, wiring, or design in consumer electronics like smartphones, laptops, or appliances can lead to fires, electric shocks, or other hazards.
- Personal care products. Chemicals harmful to your health are common in personal care products, which can lead to illnesses and injuries.
- Toys and children’s products. Defective toys, car seats, cribs, and other children’s products can pose significant risks to young users.
- Food and beverages. Contaminated or adulterated food and beverages can lead to foodborne illnesses and injuries.
- Industrial and construction equipment. Defective machinery, tools, and construction equipment can result in workplace accidents and injuries.
- Household products. Defects in household items like space heaters, kitchen appliances, and power tools can lead to fires, burns, or electrical shocks.
- Medical products: Defective medical devices, such as pacemakers or prosthetics, can cause harm to patients relying on them for health and well-being.
Almost all types of products are subject to product liability laws.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Defective Product?
In California, anyone in the product’s chain of distribution can be held liable for a product liability claim. This commonly includes not only the manufacturer of the product but also the retailer and the wholesaler or distributor. Other potential defendants include the product designer or marketer, outside consultants or contractors, and engineers. If you are pursuing a product liability claim, it is important to determine which defendants are liable for your injuries, so you can name them as defendants in your claim.
Strict Liability for Defective Products
In California, a manufacturer may be held strictly liable for any damages caused by the defective product. This means that you don’t have to prove the manufacturer was negligent, just that you suffered injury when using the product as intended or anticipated. So in California, if you can prove that the product was defective and you suffered an injury because of the defective product, whoever designs, makes, or sells that product can be held strictly liable for that injury.
Are There Any Products That Are Not Covered Under California’s Strict Liability Law?
While almost all products can be subject to California’s strict liability laws, there are some products that are not covered. These product exceptions include certain “inherently unsafe, common consumer” products, medical devices, and prescription drugs.
The “inherently unsafe” exception applies to products that are “inherently unsafe” and are known to be unsafe by the ordinary consumer who consumes the product with the ordinary knowledge common to the community. Some examples of inherently unsafe products include butter, alcohol, castor oil, and sugar.
Manufacturers of prescription drugs are immune from the “design defect” strict liability as long as the prescription drug was properly prepared and accompanied by the appropriate scientific warnings that were known at the time. Medical device manufacturers have the same immunity from the “design defect” strict liability as prescription drug manufacturers.
Contact an Attorney
If you are injured due to a defective product in California, you may have legal recourse through a product liability claim. This claim can help you seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering caused by the defective product. The attorneys at Frederick Law Firm are fierce client advocates with over 45 years of combined experience. We are experienced personal injury lawyers who are ready to go to trial to protect your rights. Contact us today for a free consultation.