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How to Sue for a Bad Product

Michael W. Patrick July 17, 2019

Whenever you purchase a product, there is a certain expectation that it will operate as advertised and won’t cause you, or your family, any harm. But from stories on the news about lawsuits and recalls, we all know that is not always the case. Too often, products are found to be unsafe or defective after they were used by a consumer who was injured.

Companies have a responsibility to make sure their products are safe before sending them out to production. Since the majority of products have become international, it is crucial that companies verify the safety of their products and make sure that they fit the regulations of the country they are selling to. If a company does not do this, they are open to lawsuits.

How to Sue a Company

If you had a product with a defect, especially one that caused harm, you may have grounds to sue. Suing a big company is a daunting feat, but knowing the steps can allow you to make a decision on whether or not you want to move forward with litigation.

Chain of Distribution

In a product liability case, the first thing you need to understand is the chain of distribution. This is crucial to know if you decide to sue a company because every party involved in the chain of distribution needs to be included in the paperwork.

The chain of distribution includes three major players: the manufacturer, retailer, and wholesaler or distributor. Each of these parties had a part to play in getting a defective product into your hands. If you are choosing to sue for a defective product, everyone involved needs to be held responsible.


More than likely, those involved in the chain of distribution were corporations. Because corporations often change hands, or names, or create spin-offs of themselves, it can seem difficult to pinpoint who to name, but product liability law makes it simpler. Corporations are viewed as people and can be held liable, no matter how they may change.

Another possible concern with corporations is whether or not they are foreign. Many people are left wondering if they can even attempt to sue a corporation that is not within their country. But there is no need to worry. You will not be prevented from suing them because their headquarters are in a different country.

Joint and Several Liability

North Carolina allows for joint and several liability. In the case of suing a company for a bad product, this means that each part of the chain of distribution can be added to your claim. They are each held responsible together (jointly) and separately (severally).

Product Defects

When suing any person, business, or entity for some sort of liability, the plaintiff (that is, the harmed party) has to prove the cause of injury. In faulty product case, you would have to prove the defect that caused the injury. The defect itself may fall into one of three types of product defect categories:

  • Design Defects - A design defect is a defect that was created in the original plans, before the product was even created.

  • Manufacturing Defects - A manufacturing defect is one that occurs during the assembly or creation of a product.

  • Marketing Defects - A marketing defect is a defect in the way a product is marketed, usually with improper labeling, instructions, or safety warnings.

Knowing which defect affected you can only help with your claim. It may take some digging to figure out which defect caused the problem, but with the help of an experienced product liability lawyer, it can be done.

North Carolina Product Liability Lawsuits

The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that in 2014, 7% of personal injury claims were product liability lawsuits. As a product liability and personal injury lawyer in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, my mission is to help guide my neighbors through their injury claims and lawsuits caused by defective products. To get started on your case, call today to set up a free, informative one-on-one consultation.