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How design defects can lead to product liability in Ohio

In our last post, we addressed the topic of how defects in manufacturing can create a dangerous product and give rise to a legal action based on product liability. The overall subject of product liability is complex, and we cannot cover all of its aspects in a single post. This entry, therefore, will address a different foundation for a product liability claim: design defects.

A key distinction between a product liability claim based on a manufacturing defect and one based on a design defect claim is that the former alleges that the product was badly made, while the latter is based on the theory that the design of the product can lead to harm no matter how well made it might be.

A design defect case can be more complex to prove than a manufacturing defect. Considerations that must be addressed when weighing a legal claim based on allegedly bad design of a defective product include: 

  • Was the risk that the product -- as it was designed and as it was meant to be used -- would cause injury foreseeable?
  • Were feasible means available to the manufacturer to economically redesign the product without sacrificing its intended purpose?

These considerations can lead to complex cost-benefit analyses that must address whether it would have been practical for the manufacturer to have designed the product differently. They must also delve into the manufacturer’s awareness of the existence of the design flaw as well as ways to have designed it to be safer.

If it can be proven that designing the product differently would not have been cost-prohibitive to the manufacturer, then it may be possible for injured victims to collect compensation.

As with our post on manufacturing defect product liability, this post is not intended as a comprehensive treatment of product liability claims based on defective design. Every case is unique and specific questions about the law should be discussed with a legal professional.


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