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Product design defects expose Louisiana companies to liability

A product that is created and offered for consumption by the Louisiana public is required to adhere to reasonable expectations and certain standards regarding safety. If there is a danger posed by a product as a result of its design, manufacture or lack of warnings that result in injuries to a consumer, financial liability and other penalties may result.

When a product is manufactured and used correctly, but the product poses a foreseeable risk, there is likely a defect in the product's design. In addition to proving that the design was defective, those injured by the product are often required to show that an alternative design was available for the product and would have reduced the risks. To do so, the injured victim must show that the alternative design was feasible to produce, financially viable and that the product would still fulfill its intended purpose.

To determine the feasibility, courts often engage in a cost-benefit analysis in which the added costs of the alternative design are weighed against the liabilities that would ensue from using the original design. The liabilities include medical costs for injuries, legal fees and lost wages, among others. If the product designer is able to show that the associated costs would have been greater than the potential damages, the court may find that it was not feasible to use the alternative design.

Product manufacturers and designers are held to reasonable standards regarding the safety of products that they put out to the public. They must ensure that the design of the product is safe and that they have explored all feasible alternatives in creating the product. Those injured by a product with a flawed design may seek the assistance of a products liability attorney to help them prove their case and receive the compensation to which they are entitled.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Defects in Design," accessed on Dec. 14, 2014

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