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Understanding design defects and the rights of injured consumers

Whether it is a motor vehicle, household appliance, work tool, a computer or any other type of electronic device or product, we as a society tend to rely on these goods and products to make life easier. In fact, some residents in California may find it impossible to get through their day without the assistance of one or more of these items. While most manufactured goods are helpful and safe to use, their safety is dependent on their design being unflawed. When errors occur in the design process, this could result in a safe product turning into a dangerous or defective one.

What does it mean to have a design defect? A design defect occurs when a company generates a foreseeable risk to consumers when a product was manufactured as intended and used in the manner in which it was intended. When a product with a design defect injures a consumer, the injured consumer will likely have to show that the risk of harm could have been reduced or even avoided if a company adopted a reasonable alternative design.

This reasonable alternative design must be feasible, which means that a manufacturer has the ability to produce it. Additionally it must also be economically feasible, meaning that it will not cost too much to make the product to these modifications. Finally, this alternative design must not be in opposition to the intended purpose of the product. This means that it cannot prevent the product from performing the function it was created for.

An injury because of a design defect could range from minor to serious. A consumer could endure much pain and suffering, requiring medical treatment and rehabilitation. This could result in losses and damages, such as medical bills and lost wages. Thus, those harmed by a defective product should understand that they have recourses available to them. A products liability claim could help an injured consumer hold a negligent manufacturer liable while also helping them recover compensation for their losses.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Defects in Design," accessed August 27, 2017

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