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Proving a design defect in a product liability lawsuit

When products are unsafe, injuries can occur. These injuries can change the way Pennsylvania residents live their lives. In some cases, dangerous products can even lead to fatalities. When people are injured by unsafe consumer products, they may search for answers about why the injuries occurred. In some cases, people may find that a design defect was to blame for their injuries.

Under product liability laws, design defect is a defect that is present in the design of the object. Unlike manufacturing defects -- which may only occur in one particular item -- design defects are present in all of the goods. In other words, the dangerous product was manufactured correctly but the danger was inherent to the design.

In order to hold a manufacturer liable for a design defect, a couple things must be present. First, plaintiffs have to prove that the defect caused the injuries that they suffered.

Second, people must show that a reasonable alternative design for the product existed at the time the product was originally manufactured. In order to be a reasonable alternative design, the product had to be economically feasible. This means that the company had to have the ability to produce the product and that the modification would not be unreasonably expensive. This often relies on a cost-benefit analysis. Finally, in order to be an alternative design, the product -- with the modifications -- had to function in the same way. This means that the modifications cannot change the intended purpose of the product.

If people suspect that a design defect played a role in their injuries, it is important to seek legal help. The burden of proof in these cases is on the injured party, and an attorney can help people meet this burden.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Defects in Design," accessed March 8, 2015

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