What Is a Design Defect?

If you or someone you know has ever been injured while using a commercial product, the manufacturer or seller of that product could be legally responsible for that injury. In product liability cases, companies are held liable to compensate persons injured by their products for monetary losses you sustained as a result, including hospital bills, as well as the pain or disfigurement you suffered.

However, liability for injuries stemming from the use of a product is limited to cases where the product contained a dangerous defect. Such defects can result from errors or failings in the design or manufacturing process.

Liability for Design Defects

Generally, the manufacturer of a product is responsible for creating products that are considered reasonably safe when used for its intended purposes. If a product is unreasonably dangerous as a result of how it was designed, its manufacturer can be held liable for resulting injuries.

In Virginia, a manufacturer is liable for a defectively designed product if the plaintiff can prove the following elements:

  • The product was unreasonably dangerous for any reasonably foreseeable uses
  • The product was unreasonably dangerous at the time it left the manufacturer’s hands

Virginia courts have held that a product is unreasonably dangerous if “an alternative design is safer overall than the design used by the manufacturer.”

For example, if a car manufacturer knew that adding rubber insulation around the fuel tank of one of its vehicles would eliminate the risk of explosion in rear-end-collisions—but chose not to adopt such a design—the manufacturer may be liable for the injuries and deaths resulting from such an explosion.

The Virginia Supreme Court has also recognized that government standards and industry practices and customs “are highly relevant on the question of whether the manufacturer’s design was negligent because they permit an inference that the manufacturer exercised (or failed to exercise) ordinary prudence.”

In a product liability case involving airbags, the Virginia Supreme Court held that “A design is not safer if the proposed modification would expose operators and bystanders to an overall greater risk of injury or death than under the challenged design.”

The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller Is Committed to Protecting Your Rights

If you have any questions or concerns about your legal rights and interests when it comes to a personal injury matter, you should seek the advice of an experienced attorney from The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller. We have the knowledge and in-depth understanding of Virginia personal injury law to help you obtain monetary compensation for any injuries you received as a result of another person’s wrongdoing.

Please call us at (757) 517-2942 or contact our office online for a free consultation about your case.

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