When buying a product, there is an expectation that it is safe to use and will not cause unforeseeable injuries (when used properly). This expectation is a reasonable one and, as such, if a product is designed in a defective manner, the designer can be held liable under California law. If a person is injured because of the defective product design, a personal injury lawsuit can be brought forth in order to seek appropriate damages.
Expectation and risk versus benefit
How do courts define a product design as defective? There are two tests that can be performed in order to prove the plaintiff’s claim: expectation and risk versus benefit. In the former test, the plaintiff is arguing that the product did not function safely as one could reasonably expect. The key here is reasonable; if a product has been designed to not go in water and the plaintiff ignores this, it wasn’t the design that made the product defective, but rather the plaintiff’s actions. The court does consider how the plaintiff used the product in question as well as the plaintiff’s injuries. Moreover, consideration is given to the product’s design.
The second test evaluates the risks versus benefits of the product design. In this test, the defendant must prove that the benefits of the product’s designs are greater than its objective risks. Therefore, the defendant is arguing that any possible risk is outweighed by the benefits because of reasons like feasibility, probability of injury, or the possibility of an alternative design. In this test, the arguments that are presented can be varied, as each design comes with its own set of inherent benefits and risks.