Examples of Cases That Can Result in Product Liability 

Plaintiffs in product liability cases will often use all available theories to obtain recovery. That means if you are injured by a product, your lawyer may well allege negligence, breach of warranty and strict liability. The theory of recovery does not affect the amount of your recovery.

Defective Design—designs makes product inherently dangerous:

A person’s face, neck and back were burned because the pressure cooker he was using could be opened before it was depressurized. The plaintiff opened the cooker according to its design, and the scalding contents sprayed onto the plaintiff.

Defective Design—Missing Safeguards:

Plaintiffs have recovered when dangerous machinery they were using (lawnmower, snow-blowers, industrial equipment) did not have appropriate safety designed in, such as automatic shutoffs and guards that keep hands out of dangerous areas of equipment.

Defective Design/Hidden Defect—Medical Devices:

Some medical devices have unknown impacts on the body that become known only after they are approved and in use. When a flawed medical device causes additional injury, illness, need for additional surgery or death, a person may recover for their injuries. A recent case involves a popular hip replacement device that caused new injuries to patients requiring a new hip replacement. The company subsequently recalled the device, and is now dealing with the damages of those who were injured by the faulty device.

Failure to Warn—Inadequate Instructions/Safety Warnings:

When a product is made dangerous or more dangerous because it comes with flawed or inadequate instructions on assembly, use or storage, people injured as a result may recover for their injuries.


  • A person was making fresh pasta with a machine designed to turn off when the user opened the lid. In this case, when the person opened the lid, the machine malfunctioned and did not shut off, causing injuries that led to the amputation of the person’s hand. The machine’s manufacturer was in Italy and had no office or employees in the U.S. The plaintiff was able to recover for the injuries from the U.S. distributor of the product.
  • A malfunctioning pool heater emitted lethal amounts of carbon monoxide resulting in the death of a swimmer. The swimmer’s estate recovered for wrongful death.

Hidden Defects/Defective Processes: Toxic Food:

When people become sick from eating food processed at a plant that is dirty or has been contaminated, they can recover for their injuries.

Hidden Defects—Toxic Chemicals in Products:

When a product contains toxic ingredients, injuries can arise years after the product has been purchased, installed or used. Materials such as lead in paint, asbestos in insulation, DDT sprayed on crops have all been the subject of litigation. If you have been poisoned or otherwise injured by toxic ingredients that are in a product, you can recover damages.

Hidden Defects—Dangerous Medications:

Some medications have dangerous, but unknown side-effects that become known only after they are approved and in use. When an unknown side-effect causes severe injury, illness, birth defects or death, a person may recover for their injuries. The most famous case of this type was about the synthetic estrogen, DES, which caused numerous and severe birth defects in babies and increased cancer risks in mothers.

I have been injured by a defective or malfunctioning product:

  • Seek medical attention
  • Document your claim
  • Your time to sue is limited; contact an experienced personal injury lawyer


Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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