Design Defect Attorneys
Lawyers for Consumers Injured by Defective Designs & Dangerous Products
There are three major ways that a product can be deemed defective or dangerous worthy of a recall.
First, there could be a defect in the manufacturing. This type of defect involves an otherwise good product that has been manufactured poorly. A product that is not performing how it was designed and intended to perform may fall under this category.
Second, there is failure to warn, also known as a defect in the marketing of the product. This may be a little more difficult to define. When a product is designed and released onto the market, the product manufacturer is responsible for fully explaining its intended use to consumers. This can include proper instructions, for example. Products that have small parts and could pose a choking hazard to small children should say that on the packaging. The intended use of the product is also an incredibly important feature. Many of the injuries that consumers sustain are because they did not use the product properly. Manufacturers need to include detailed instructions or they may be guilty of failure to warn.
Finally, there is the design defect. This is a defect in the design of the product, rather than a mistake made to an otherwise good product. Even if a product was manufactured as carefully and safely as possible, it would still be defective or dangerous because of a fault in the design itself.
Strict Liability vs. Negligence
Most personal injury claims operate on the basis of negligence, which is a type of carelessness administered by one party that results directly or indirectly in the injury of another individual. Negligence connotes bad behavior in a way. It is more of an attitude of carelessness. Sometimes, a party is responsible for damages while having no intention or carelessness on their part. This is when a case changes hands to "strict liability."
Since manufacturers who design products that don't work or don't work as intended did not make their product with the intention that it would fail, they are liable but not negligent. For example, a person who owns a building and fails to get the sidewalk repaired would be both liable and negligent if someone tripped and hurt themselves on that particular area of the sidewalk.
A product manufacturer can be liable, but not negligent, for designing a product that did not work as intended.
The Role of the CPSC & the FDA
The CPSC is the regulating agency for products that reach the shelves, just as the Food and Drug Administration is the regulating agency responsible for all food and drugs. With these regulating agencies and strict rules in place, how do so many dangerous products still reach the shelves each year? Unfortunately, many products are not recalled until multiple consumers report injuries. When accidents are reported, the regulating agencies will then step in to run tests on the product, or ask the manufacturers to run additional tests on their products. What is often found are problems all the way up to the warehouse level, where the products are actually manufactured. If you were injured by a product of some kind, whether a toy, a prescription drug, or a coffee maker, then you may even be able to join a mass tort. This happens when a product injures multiple people in the same way. You may be able to band together with others who have been injured by the same product.
Design Defect FAQ
How can a design defect make a product dangerous to use?
When there’s a design defect, it means that an error was made in the way a product was envisioned, planned, and developed. The idea for the product may have been a good one, but if something was overlooked or someone was careless in putting the plans together, it will make the product difficult or unsafe to use. For example, let’s say someone had an idea to create a type of bouncy chair for an infant that would vibrate and play music. If the slope of the chair was too steep and it was designed without a safety belt, infants may be prone to fall out of the chair. This would be a defective design.
What are some examples of defective designs?
Design defects may occur in virtually any type of product. For example:
- A top-heavy SUV with a narrow wheelbase that makes it more likely to roll over.
- A piece of heavy machinery that’s designed without a guardrail to protect workers’ hands from being caught while loading it.
- A crib with the bars set too far apart, allowing a child’s head to be caught in between.
- An amusement park ride that has an extremely sharp turn that causes the car to come off the tracks.
- An ATV that's designed without a strong enough roll cage to protect occupants from harm.
- A small seat that's designed to hold a child but that has no safety belt to prevent the child from falling out.
Manufacturers have an obligation to design products that are reasonably safe for consumers to use. The right design is just part of that. The product must also be manufactured correctly and must include warning labels and instructions for use, and it must be marketed in the right way. Only when all of those pieces are in place will consumers be protected from harm.
Do I have a product liability case based on a design defect?
If you were using a product as directed and were injured, you could have a product liability lawsuit based on a design defect—if the product’s design was flawed. Proving this can be challenging, but our firm frequently works with engineers, designers, accident reconstruction specialists, and other professionals across a range of fields to investigate product liability matters and build compelling cases for the injured. We will also investigate to see if other consumers were injured as well. With design defect cases, it’s likely that many people experienced the same problem. This information can be used to support your case, and in some situations, a class action may be the best way to proceed.
Regardless of what product injured you, we are here to listen and help. Contact Arnold & Itkin at (888) 493-1629 to learn more about what we can do for you.