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The 3 ways businesses produce defective products

Products liability is a special category of Pennsylvania’s personal injury law. Instead of the victim’s injuries being the result of another party’s drunk driving or similar conduct, in products liability cases, the negligent party is the designer or manufacturer of a defective product that harmed the plaintiff in some way.

Because it can be nearly impossible to determine who specifically acted negligently in the creation of a defective product, like a dangerous medication or worthless seat belt, in many products liability cases courts will apply the doctrine of “res ipsa loquitur.” Latin for “the thing speaks for itself,” this doctrine means that the existence of the defect at issue could not have occurred unless someone was negligent.

If successful, the plaintiff would not have to show how the defendant was negligent. Instead, the burden is on the defendant to show that it was not negligent.

The law puts product defects into three general categories:

  • Design defects. These are defects that occurred prior to manufacturing, and refer to a flaw in the design that makes the product inherently unsafe.
  • Manufacturing defects. As the name implies, manufacturing defects occur while the defendant is creating or assembling the particular product that injured the plaintiff.
  • Marketing defects. Rather than defects introduced in the design or manufacturing stages, these are flaws in the way the company markets the product: bad labeling, insufficient instructions or lack of needed safety warnings.

Defects at any point in the chain of events from design to sales can cause serious injury, and often the defect is not obvious to consumers until it is too late.

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