Consumers have the right to have products that are reasonably safe. In California, a manufacturer, distributor, retailer, or other company in the stream of commerce may be strictly liable for injuries caused by a dangerous and defective product. A design defect claim is a specific type of product liability claim typically filed against a product’s designer and/or manufacturer. In this article, our San Jose product liability lawyers provide an overview of design defect claims in California.
California Law: Strict Liability for Defective Product Design
There are a number of theories of liability in a defective product case. When a plaintiff brings a product liability claim on the grounds of a defective product design, they are essentially arguing that the product line in question has an unreasonably dangerous and flawed design. In other words, the entire line of products is inherently defective.
Two Tests to Determine if a Product is Defectively Designed in California
To hold a product maker liable for injuries caused by a design flaw, a person injured in an accident must prove that the design truly is “defective” for the purposes of California law. What constitutes a defective design depends on several different factors. In California, courts use two basic tests to determine if a specific product is defectively designed:
- Consumer Expectation Test: A product may be deemed defective on the basis of its design if it fails to satisfy the consumer expectation test. In effect, a product designer or product manufacturer may be liable if the product fails to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would reasonably expect it to perform given the specific circumstances and the mechanism of injury or accident.
- Risk/Benefit Test: A product may also be deemed defective on the basis of a flawed design under California’s risk/benefit test. Under the risk/benefit test, the jury is asked to decide if the benefits of a particular design outweigh the additional risk created by that design.
It is important to emphasize that these are not mutually exclusive theories of liability in California. Instead, the consumer expectation test and risk/benefit test are alternative theories of liability in a defective design case. A plaintiff could bring a successful product liability claim using either of these standards.
Statute of Limitations: Two-Years in Defective Design Product Liability Claims
You must initiate a product liability lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires. In California, a defective design product liability case must be filed within two years of the date on which the underlying cause of action accrues. In most product liability claims, a plaintiff has two years from the date of the injury itself. However, there are some exceptions. If the defective design was not reasonably known or knowable by the victim, they may have additional time to bring a product liability claim to seek compensation for their damages.
Contact Our San Jose, CA Product Liability Attorney for a Free Consultation
Alexander Law Group, LLP is an established and highly respected personal injury law firm with substantial experience in collecting maximum for injuries caused by defective products, including defective medical devices, such as an award-winning victory in a $79,000,000 jury verdict against Johnson & Johnson for damages caused by a defective surgical stapler, major recoveries against car manufacturers for defective fuel systems and representing hundreds poisoned by toxic chemicals manufactured by the chemical industry. Our attorneys are available to answer questions and share our knowledge of the law and the results of our research and experience. Our goal as personal injury lawyers is to make a difference for our clients. Every day we deal with a range of health and safety issues that most people do not encounter until after an injury occurs. We are safety lawyers committed to sharing with our clients, colleagues, and the public information for safe and healthy living. Call 888-777-1776 or contact us online to schedule a consultation to see how we can help you.