Defective Products: Design Defect

When someone is injured by a defective product, they may be entitled to compensation for their damages through a products liability lawsuit. Product liability lawsuits generally involve claims for defective design and manufacture, as well as failure to warn. The New Jersey Products Liability Act governs these actions in New Jersey.

A design defect claim, in particular, requires that a plaintiff prove a defect in the design of a product which rendered it unsafe for its intended use.

What is a Design Defect?

Before products reach consumers, they typically go through various planning stages. One of the earliest stages in the life of a product is the design phase.

A design defect describes a flaw in a product that renders it inherently unsafe for its intended use. A design defect is different from a manufacturing defect insofar as a manufacturing defect is a deviation from the intention of the manufacturer. A design defect, by contrast, occurs where a product is manufactured as intended, but the design renders the product unsafe.

Identifying a Design Defect

Some telltale signs of a design defect are as follows:

  • The product is unreasonably dangerous even though manufactured exactly as it was designed.
  • When used as intended, or for a reasonably foreseeable purpose, the product presents a hazard.
  • The risk presented by the product could have been avoided or minimized through the implementation of a feasible alternative design.


Examples of Design Defect Product Liability Cases

Design defect claims are complex cases that typically require testimony of expert witnesses on issues relating to liability and damages. The following cases are examples of famous design defect cases that have been litigated in the past:

  • Rear gas tanks in the Ford Pinto in the 1970’s that caused injuries to occupants in rear-end collisions
  • 2006 Vioxx painkiller that allegedly caused heart attacks
  • 2008 Sta-Rite pool drain that caused the disembowelment of a young girl
  • 2012 products liability claims against Blitz gas cans with a propensity for flashback explosions when used near a source of ignition
  • Recent litigation against Remington rifles alleging trigger design flaws, leading to dangerous discharges without engaging the trigger

If you were injured by a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering and more. Contact The Reinartz Law Firm to speak with an experienced Products Liability lawyer.