In defective design cases, a “defect” is defined as an imperfection in a product or device that is so great the item cannot be used safely. So it stands to reason that the manufacturer of a product, prior to its sale or distribution, has a duty to use reasonable care to design a product that is reasonably safe for its intended use.
In discussing defective design cases for other communities in Massachusetts, the focus should not be only on whether there was an error in producing the product, but also whether the product was unreasonably dangerous in its design. In other words, that the product does not meet a consumer’s reasonable expectation as to safety.
In fact, there are three types of defective designs used in a court of law:
- Latent design defect: This is a defect that is not easily or readily visible to the product purchaser, such as faulty brakes on a car.
- Patent defect: This defect is obvious and immediately visible during a reasonable inspection, such as a car with no seatbelts.
- Fatal defect: This type of design defect is so readily apparent that it will immediately nullify the contract under which the product was purchased, such as a car that does not run or is inherently dangerous.
In defective design cases, the focus of the personal injury lawyer is not on the manufacturer’s conduct, but rather upon the actual design itself. Factors such as the environment in which the product is used is often central to this type of litigation in defective design cases. Factors such as the gravity of the danger involved in the defective design, the likelihood that the danger would occur, the mechanical feasibility of a safer alternative design, the cost of an improved design and the adverse consequences that will result from an alternative design, are further variables which are considered in both the defective design case brought and the defense raised as a result of such a case.
In addition, the product designer must anticipate the reasonably-foreseeable risk associated with the product’s use in a certain environment. This means that a manufacturer may be held liable for failing to anticipate the environment in which the product was used and the risks involved in its use.
With so many types of products being sold each day, depending upon the cause of the injury, extensive research must occur before litigation is brought to anticipate all challenges by the manufacturer against a products liability claim. Defenses such as misuse by the consumer or actions by intermediaries may come into play in defective design cases. Further complicating these types of claims is whether or not adequate warnings to the consumer regarding the use of the product may be raised as a defense by the manufacturer. Typically product liability claims are quite complicated and warrant an exhaustive analysis of the theory of liability utilized by an injured party and all anticipated defenses by the manufacturer of the product.
If you or a loved one has been injured through the use of a product suspected of being defective, you need the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer. For more information about defective designs or to discuss a potential claim, please feel free to contact the law office of James G. Haddad.