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How do manufacturing and design defect cases differ?

Each year, countless Americans are injured or die as a result of using defective products.

Oftentimes, we hear about cars and how their faulty brakes, airbags or some other feature malfunctioned, resulting in a crash injury or death. We also often hear about toys and they were recalled because they posed an unknown choking hazard or some other type of potentially catastrophic defect. No matter what the product, we often don't hear about how dangerous it is until some time after it's already hurt someone.

It's likely that until you or someone you love was hurt, you may have not been aware that there are two different types of defects: manufacturing and design. Being able to tell what type of defect led to your injuries, though, will be critical if you attempt to recover medical costs and other damages.

One of the most common ways to distinguish between manufacturing and design defects is to think of them as unplanned and planned ones. If only one or a few out of several products produced have a defect that maims, then it's said that a manufacturing defect exists. However, if the entire run of a product is found to have a flaw that has the potential of injuring one or many, then the defect is considered to be a design one.

If a company is accused of having produced a product with a manufacturing defect, then the onus falls on the plaintiff to prove that it was faulty. Oftentimes, plaintiff's attorneys will have experts testify about product design shortcomings or that it was marketed incorrectly.

Manufacturing defect cases are subject to strict liability standards meaning that the plaintiff needs only to prove that the manufacturer was somehow negligent in their production of a product. They don't have to show where the defect occurred.

In contrast, with a design defect, a liability without fault standard may apply. The product may have inherently been dangerous in the way it was designed. If the product was used for an unintended use, then it may injure someone. A designer may be held liable simply to send a message to them to be more responsible in design choices.

If you've been injured by a defective product, then a Queens attorney can advise you of your right to receive damages to help cover medical costs and lost wages in your case.

Source: FindLaw, "Products liability: manufacturing defects vs. design defects," accessed April 13, 2018

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