Often, people assume a defective product was constructed improperly. For example, a gun manufacturer designs a rifle with a safety, but one of the guns becomes defective when the switch is installed backwards. The rifle looks correct, but when the switch shows red -- typically meaning the gun is ready to fire -- the safety is actually on. More importantly, when the safety appears to be on, the gun can actually be fired at any moment.
While many product liability cases do stem from manufacturing and assembly mistakes, it's important to remember that cases can also be related to design defects. The product could still be inherently and unnecessarily dangerous even if it has been assembled perfectly.
The key point in these cases is in asking whether or not there was a foreseeable risk if the product was constructed as the design intended. If so, the company could be liable if they could have designed it in a safer manner without detracting from the functionality of the product.
As that last stipulation shows, this doesn't mean that every dangerous product means the company is liable. A chainsaw is always going to be dangerous, for instance, because of the exposed blade. It's not possible to put a guard on the saw that means no one can ever be hurt, because doing so would make the saw useless for its intended purpose.
However, when the risk is clear and when changes are feasible, companies have a responsibility to design products that are safe for normal use. For example, many industrial fans are designed with covers to keep people from cutting their fingers on the metal blades. Openings are needed for airflow, but they should be small enough that a person's hands can't still fit through. Designing the cover with wide openings makes the guard useless and makes the fan unnecessarily dangerous.
Injuries from defective products vary widely from case to case, but they can be very servere, leading to high medical costs, lost wages, the need for on-going medical care, a permanent disability, and much more. Those who have been injured due to design defects need to know if they can seek compensation.
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