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How Can You Determine If a Product Is Defective?

We all work hard for our money, and there’s an expectation that the things we spend it on will be of good quality: and especially that they will be safe to use. When someone breaks that trust and produces a defective product, you can turn to a Cody, Wyoming and Casper, Wyoming product liability attorney for help. The question is whether you have a defective product or simply a poor quality one. Here’s how to tell.

Tips From a Product Liability Attorney: How to Tell If a Product Is Defective

What Do You See?

Start by inspecting its physical condition. Look closely for any visible damage, such as cracks, dents, or other signs of wear and tear that might suggest a defect. Testing the product to see if it powers on and performs its primary function is a basic check. If it fails to work as intended, it may indeed be defective.

Compare Against the Specs

Next, compare the product’s performance and features against the specifications provided by the manufacturer. Any significant discrepancies can indicate a defect. Follow the usage instructions in the product manual, and if the product does not operate according to the manual’s guidelines, it might be defective.

Listen Carefully

Be aware of any unusual noises, odors, or signs of overheating when using the product, as these can be indicators of a problem. Safety issues, such as electric shocks or chemical leaks, are strong signs that the product is defective.

Compare With Similar Products

Comparing the product’s performance with similar items can also help identify defects. If the product significantly underperforms compared to others, this could suggest a defect. You might also look for recall notices related to the product, as a recall often indicates a widespread issue. Reading customer reviews can provide additional insights; if many customers report similar problems, the product might be defective.

Is It “Defective” or Just Poorer Quality?

If you pay $300 for one trampoline and $100 for another of the same size, you should expect the significantly cheaper one to be of poorer quality; i.e., it will likely not last as long, won’t handle as much abuse, won’t be suitable for larger children, etc. However, that cheaper trampoline should still perform as promised, and the parameters for its safe use should still be very clear.  

Defective Products

A defective product is one that has a flaw or imperfection that impairs its intended use. This flaw typically stems from an error in manufacturing, design, or labeling. Here are some of the key characteristics of a defective product:

Manufacturing Defect

This occurs during the production process and affects only some items. For example, a batch of smartphones might have faulty batteries due to a manufacturing error, causing them to overheat or not hold a charge.

Design Defect

A design defect is inherent in the product design itself and affects all units of that product. For instance, if a car model has a braking system that fails under certain conditions, this is a design defect.

Labeling Defect

This involves inadequate or incorrect instructions, warnings, or labels that fail to inform the consumer about potential risks. For example, if a chemical cleaner lacks proper hazard warnings, it’s considered defective in labeling.

Immediate Performance Failure

Defective products often fail to function immediately or shortly after use. If a new toaster doesn’t heat up at all a week after you bought it – and you didn’t drop it, knock it, or short it out knowingly – it’s defective, no matter how cheap it was.

Safety Hazards

Defective products pose safety risks, such as electrical shocks, fire hazards, or mechanical failures that could cause injury. These risks require immediate action, like recalls, and are not part of what you’re paying for, even with a cheap product!

Poorer Quality Products

A product of poorer quality, in contrast, does not have a specific flaw that impairs its basic function but is simply made with lower-grade materials, less precision, or lacks features found in higher-quality items. Here are key characteristics of poorer quality products:

Material and Build

Poorer quality products are often made with cheaper materials or less durable construction methods. For example, a budget-friendly pair of shoes might use low-grade leather or synthetic materials that wear out faster. The sole will likely be glued on and not stitched.

Performance and Features

While they perform their intended function, poorer quality products usually don’t perform as well as higher-quality alternatives. A low-cost blender might not blend as smoothly or handle tough ingredients as efficiently as a premium model; but it should still turn on, blend, and pose no safety risks.

Longevity and Reliability

These products are more prone to wear and tear over time. They may not last as long or perform consistently over their lifespan. For example, an inexpensive washing machine might require repairs more frequently and have a shorter overall life. However, no matter how cheap the product, it should continue to perform at least until the end of its warrantied life, and if it fail prematurely, the manufacturer should honor the warranty.

Practical Differences

In practical terms, a defective product usually needs immediate corrective action, such as repair, replacement, or a recall due to its inability to perform as intended or its potential to cause harm. Consumer protection laws typically cover defects, ensuring remedies for the consumer. Poorer quality products, however, might perform adequately for their price range and meet basic expectations, but they do so with limitations in performance, durability, and features.

What to Do If You’ve been Injured by a Suspected Defective Product

Act Quickly

If you’ve been injured by a defective product, act promptly. Begin by seeking immediate medical attention, regardless of how minor the injury might seem. Prompt medical evaluation ensures your well-being and creates a documented record of your injuries, which you may need later on. 

Preserve Evidence

Preserving evidence is the next critical step. Retain the defective product and refrain from attempting any repairs or alterations. The product itself is vital evidence in your potential claim. Save all packaging, instructions, and receipts, as these materials can link the product to the manufacturer or retailer and demonstrate that you used it as intended. Photograph the product, your injuries, and the accident scene to create a visual record of what happened.

Report the Issue

After addressing immediate health concerns and preserving evidence, report the incident to the manufacturer or retailer.  It’s also wise to report the defective product to consumer safety agencies, such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in the United States, as these agencies track product safety issues and can take action against hazardous products.

Call a Cody, Wyoming and Casper, Wyoming Product Liability Attorney

Consult a personal injury lawyer who specializes in product liability cases. A lawyer will explain your rights under the law, evaluate the strength of your claim, and help you figure the compensation you may be entitled to, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. With their guidance, you can decide whether to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer, distributor, or a retailer.

If you’ve been injured by what you believe to be a defective product, contact Ochs Law Firm right away for help. With years of experience in product liability, we effectively help those injured by the negligence of others to get the justice and redress they deserve.

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Our experienced Wyoming personal injury lawyer, Jason E. Ochs will fight to help you recover proper compensation in a class action, pharmaceutical, and medical cases throughout multiple states. Contact us today.

Jason E. Ochs

Jason began his legal career in 2002 with a national multi-district litigation law firm in Newport Beach, California. There he worked on a variety of high-profile, complex-litigation projects including pharmaceutical and medical-device litigation across the country.

The Ochs Law Firm epitomizes professionalism and commitment to all of our clients, regardless of the size of the case or the might of the Defendant. We practice in Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas and California in personal injury litigation, medical malpractice, defective products, class action lawsuits, Qui Tam lawsuits, litigation across multiple districts, bad faith insurance, and civil litigation.

We look forward to providing top quality service and representation for you and your family.