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What is a design defect?

Consumer products must be designed, manufactured and marketed to consumers in a way that ensures their safety to the fullest extent. Though many products are safe so long as they are used as intended, there are many others that leave everyday people seriously injured. When this happens, severe losses may take hold, including medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. Therefore, it is important to understand products liability law and how it may come into play at any time.

This week, we will take a brief look at design defects. Poorly designed products can put consumers at risk of harm. Therefore, companies can typically be held liable if there was a foreseeable risk that was not prevented through design. In order to succeed on a legal claim that relies on product design defects, a plaintiff may have to show that the risk could have been reduced or wholly avoided by adopting a reasonable alternative design.

A reasonable alternative design is one that is feasible, financially affordable for the company and does not work against the product's intended use. Thus, in a products liability lawsuit, a court may look to see how much it would cost a company to have made the product safer and weigh that consideration against the cost of any harm that may befall consumers if that alternative design is not implemented. This is known as cost-benefit analysis.

Products liability claims are often complicated, and those dealing with design defects can be especially difficult to handle. As many of these cases involve vastly different products and a unique set of circumstances, it is often best for those who have been hurt by a product to discuss the matter with an experienced Minnesota attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Defects in Design," accessed on May 4, 2015

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