Product liability law holds manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers responsible when their products injure people. Standards of proof and theories of liability vary from one state to another, but three major types of product liability theories are generally recognized:
- Manufacturing defects: These defects occur in the manufacturing process, typically due to poor-quality materials or poor workmanship.
- Design defects: These are defects that exist because the design of the product is inherently or unreasonably dangerous – even if it was manufactured correctly with quality materials.
- Marketing or labeling defects (for example, a failure to warn that hair dryers are not to be used in the bathtub): Marketing or labeling defects occur when there are inadequate warning labels or instructions that fail to either warn the consumer of the dangers of a product or properly instruct them on how to safely use it. Remember the hot-coffee case? It was a failure-to-warn case.