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How a defective design can lead to a dangerous product

Earlier this summer, we discussed a form of products liability called “failure to warn.” To recap, this is when a manufacturer does not take reasonable steps to inform consumers of the potential dangers its product carries. Think warning labels, instruction manuals and so on.

Usually, when someone is injured by a failure to warn, the product itself is not defective. Other times, the product causes harm because it was made negligently. This generally occurs in one of two ways: problems in the manufacturing stage and a defective design. Today, we will discuss design defects.

Unlike manufacturing defects, a design defect occurs before the business has even begun production. Thus, instead of a small percentage of a product being defective due to a problem on the assembly line, every one of the products created will be defective, making the risk to the public potentially much worse.

To prove that a business created a defective design, an injured plaintiff must show several things to be true:

  • The design was unreasonably dangerous prior to the manufacturing phase
  • The design defect makes the product unsafe for its intended use
  • There was a safer alternative design available at the time of production
  • The product in question caused harm

When a manufacturer makes a defective product, often the public does not learn of the defect until several people get hurt. A recall can prevent future injuries, but those who were already harmed may need to turn to litigation. If enough people were victimized by a defectively designed product, a class-action lawsuit may be a possibility.

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