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What is the malfunction doctrine in a product liability suit?

Whenever a person is injured because of a mechanical problem, a manufacturing defect suit may be necessary to secure fair compensation for his or her injuries. Like any product liability suit, it is very important to pursue justice when you suffer an injury from a defective product, because the same product may also harm others.

However, it is not always simple to prove a product defect was responsible for an injury. In some cases, such as car accidents, where the incident itself may damage the defective product and cast doubt on the nature of the defect, plaintiffs often must rely on malfunction doctrine. Malfunction doctrine is a legal principle that allows a victim to demonstrate the defective nature of a product without necessarily having to produce the product itself.

In product liability suits, demonstrating the defect in the product is key to success, but if the defective product was destroyed in the accident, that may be impossible. Under the malfunction doctrine, a plaintiff can demonstrate that the accident indicates malfunction. Once the likelihood of malfunction as a cause is established, the plaintiff can then demonstrate that other causes are unlikely or implausible to prove that the defective product was responsible for the injury.

For instance, a car accident caused by a faulty steering column may require the malfunction doctrine to prove product liability. If the column was severely damaged in the accident, the malfunction doctrine can still help prove fault.

Every product liability suit is different and should be approached on its own merits. If you have suffered injury from a defective product, do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced attorney to examine the details of your circumstances and determine the strongest path to to justice.

Source: FindLaw, "Defects in Manufacturing," accessed April 07, 2017

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