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What constitutes a design defect?

When a product injures you and you file a product liability lawsuit, the California courts will seek to answer the question of how the injury happened. If the courts determine that the product was defective, they will then try to determine whether the defect was a design defect or a manufacturer defect.

According to FindLaw, Manufacturer errors occur during the actual production of a product, whereas design defects occur when there is an intrinsic imperfection in the product's design that renders it unreasonably dangerous. The courts may hold a company liable for injuries that a product causes when the product's design poses a foreseeable risk even when used as the manufacturer intended it to be used. The courts will ask you to show that you were not using the product in any other way except in the way in which the manufacturer intended.

In addition to asking you to prove that the product posed a foreseeable risk, the courts also ask you to show that your risk of danger could have been avoided, or at the very least reduced, if the manufacturer had used an alternative design. However, the alternative design must have been physically possible for the manufacturer to develop (meaning, it had the ability to create such a design) and economically doable (meaning the manufacturer had the financial means to produce the new design). Also, the alternative design must not be in contradiction to the product's projected purpose, meaning that it would still perform the task for which it was created regardless of the new design.

The information in this post is designed for educational purposes only. It is not meant to be taken as legal advice.

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