Defects in Design

A defective product’s design can be a ground for product liability legal claims. The Re-statement (Third) states that a defective design happens when the potential risks of harm posed by the product can be prevented or lessened by using a sensible alternative design by the seller or distributor, or a predecessor in a commercial chain of distribution, and the lapse of the alternative design makes the product unsafe and hazardous.

The cases that involve defective designs center on the decision of the manufacturer in creating the product, particularly in their decision to the safety aspects of the product. It is different from situations where the defective products were due to errors made while making the product, while the design defect cases are on the manufacturer’s strategies selected in making or producing the product.

The Modern courts utilize a cost-benefit analysis in solving these design defect cases as stipulated in the Re-Statement (Third). The plaintiff must determine an alternative design that can make a product safer to prove a case based on a defective design. Should the plaintiff show that there is a practicable alternative to the design used by the manufacturer, it could have prevented the injury the plaintiff had suffered. Then, the court will be able to decide if the alternative is cost-efficient.

For instance, a metal fan was protected by a guard; however, the openings of the guard were three-quarters of an inch wide. While using the fan, the plaintiff’s hand slides between the gaps in the guard, thus, the plaintiff is injured by the blades of the fan. The plaintiff may center its liability case on the design of the fan, insisting that if the openings of the guard were half-inch or lesser, the plaintiff’s hand would have not been injured.

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