When it comes to consumer products, few countries are as heavily regulated for safety as the United States. The process and safety tests that consumer products such as cribs, machinery and automobiles have to endure are very rigorous and thorough. However, sometimes these tests do not always catch dangerous design defects in the product. A dangerous product's design lacks safety and could endanger the life of the consumer.
A design defect can be more difficult to discover and prove than other types of defects like manufacturing defects. Legally, the characteristic feature of a defective design is that there is a foreseeable risk posed by the product and the product was manufactured as intended and used for its intended purposes.
For example, there are often design defects in the automobile industry. If a car was designed to be driven safely but the design calls for the gas tank in the rear of the vehicle close to the bumper, this could be considered a design defect because the car could easily blow up if the driver were rear-ended, thereby causing catastrophic injuries. Another example is if a crib were designed for it to be easier for the mother to reach over and grab her infant but the crib's sliding mechanism could easily fall away and cause the baby to fall out of the crib.
In the course of improving a product liability case, the injured may have to prove that there could have been an alternative introduced into the design that would have been safer.
Source: Findlaw. "Defects in Design," accessed July 27, 2015