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Some products do not have any design defects, but become dangerous because quality control misses an error that occurs during the manufacturing process thereby allowing a dangerous product to enter the stream of commerce. This is known as a manufacturing defect.
Some of the more common manufacturing defects are the result of defective parts, missing parts, incorrect assembly, and the use of substitute/inferior materials. In many cases the damages resulting from manufacturing defects could have been avoided by better quality controls.
A specific product defect can cause many different types of harm. Linking a known injury to a faulty product can sufficiently prove liability. Attorneys call this the “Indeterminate Product Test.” Ordinary wear and tear of a product does not outweigh liability for a product defect that existed at the time of purchase.
Consumer expectation is that if the product poses a health risk to the consumer the manufacturer will provide adequate warnings of any potential dangers. Insufficient warnings may be defects that present unreasonable dangers to users or consumers, even if the products they accompany are not defectively designed. Manufacturers are in a superior position than consumers to know the potential hazards of their products. Consumers read labels and heed their warnings. In addition to instances of complete failure to warn, a company may still be held liable if the warning is only partial or otherwise insufficient to inform the user of the danger.
Many factors are involved in determining whether warnings or instructions are legally adequate. The obviousness of the danger is one factor that must be considered. A manufacturer doesn’t need to warn that the blade of a knife is sharp. Other factors include, but are not limited to, the location of the warning, the size and font of the warning, the specificity of the instructions and the language of the instructions/warnings. The warning cannot be buried in the middle of a lengthy technical manual. The warning must be conspicuous the average user.
In some instances products have design flaws and are dangerous the minute they come off the production line even though they are assembled precisely to the manufacturer’s specifications. This is known as a design defect.
Courts evaluate several factors in adjudicating defective design product liability claims:
The above list is not meant to be exhaustive and represents some of the many factors relevant to a potential claim. After all, the value of a human life is not just a number in an equation.
A consumer’s reasonable expectations about a product count. Through the “Consumer Expectation Test,” a product may be found defective in design if the product failed to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect. There is an implicit promise that if a product is on the market, it will do the job for which it was built. The Consumer Expectations Test considers physical harms to product users, reasonable expectations, and the inherent nature of a product to prove liability.
Manufacturers can’t cheapen products at the expense of consumer safety. Under the “Risk Utility Test,” the wisdom of hindsight can prove that an alternative product design (even if more expensive) would have prevented dangerous defects. In these cases, a balancing test is applied. On one side of the scale is the cost/feasibility of the alternative design. On the other side of the scale is the potential danger that can be avoided or reduced by implementing the change. If an alternative product design could be implemented at a marginal cost increase, which would have prevented a grave harm to the user, a company can be held liable for their negligence.
What do I need to prove?
Generally, to recover in a product liability case you must prove 4 things:
Product liability cases are often difficult and expensive cases to litigate. These types of cases often hinge on expert testimony from industrial engineers or other experts who are familiar with manufacturing and design processes of the subject product. At Romanow Law Group we will complete a full investigation of the product that injured you.
Most consumers rightfully believe that the products they purchase have been rigorously tested and are safe to be used for their intended purposes. If you have suffered an injury from a defective product you may have a product liability claim. When companies produce defective products that endanger consumers they must be held accountable. If a company has manufactured a dangerous product that caused you harm, you may have a right to compensations. If a defective product has injured you, do not hesitate to secure representation by Romanow Law Group.
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