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What are a consumer's rights with defective products?

In 2015, there were many incidents of product recalls, from tainted foods to defective automobiles. Those who suffered injuries due to dangerous consumer products may have legal grounds to file damage claims.

Consumers have a right to be protected from dangerous products on the marketplace. There are three primary kinds of product defects that make up the bulk of product liability claims.

-- Design defects. This could be a bad design for a bike that uses brake cables that are prone to snap when the brakes are applied during normal use.

-- Manufacturing defects. Suppose a truck's accelerator has a tendency to get stuck because of some defect in its manufacturing process. Consumers are at risk of death or serious injuries in an accident.

-- Defective warnings. If space heaters are likely to overheat or catch fire if they remain on for longer than 12 hours, but the product has no adequate written warning, consumers are at grave risk for a tragedy to occur.

To make a case for liability for defective products, attorneys rely on these two primary legal theories.

-- Strict Liability. Manufacturers have "strict" liability for any product defects that occur while they are being manufactured. The manufacturer doesn't have to be negligent in the process for a plaintiff to successfully bring legal action against them for injuries stemming from manufacturing errors.

-- Negligence. A plaintiff must prove a manufacturer breached its duty owed to them, and the breach was the cause of plaintiff's injuries. Additionally, as a result, plaintiffs must experience actual damages. For instance, motorcycles may not have been tested rigorously enough and the wheels come loose and cause riders serious injuries.

There are other intricacies involved in such cases, which can be quite complex and technical. Most plaintiffs prefer to leave the legal wrangling in court to their attorneys.

Source: Findlaw, "Defective Products and Consumer Rights," accessed Dec. 11, 2015

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