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What is a reasonable alternative design?

| May 1, 2019 | Product Liability

In some scenarios concerning product liability in Georgia, an individual suffers injury due to a defective product. The attorney for the injured party claims a defective design was the culprit and will argue that the company which made the product is liable because the company could have adopted a reasonable alternative design. It is helpful to understand what a reasonable alternative design is since it may conclusively show that a company was negligent in producing a defective product.

FindLaw explains that one reason products can harm a user is because the design was defective. This is not the same as a manufacturer committing errors that deviate from an otherwise safe design. Rather, the problem is with the design of the product itself. So if someone gets hurt while using the product, the company can be held liable because it used an unsafe manufacturing design.  

A reasonable alternative design is a way the company would have made the product that would have been safer for users and anyone in the vicinity of the product. The basic argument for the existence of a reasonable alternative design is that the company could have produced this design instead of the method that created the dangerous project. But to demonstrate that the company could have alternative designed the product, three factors have to be established.

First, the company had the capacity to design the product to be safer. Secondly, it was economically possible for the company to make this alternative design. It would not be a massive drain on the budget of the company or otherwise place it in financial jeopardy to create this design. Finally, the alternative design would not have changed the intended purpose of the product.

The question of whether a reasonable alternative design would cost too much for a company to manufacture is likely to be a contentious one in a product liability case. A court may employ a cost-benefit analysis to figure out how much more the alternative design would have cost and weigh it against the costs of possible damages resulting from the present design, which can include litigation costs and medical bills to pay injured parties.

Because people suffer injury from manufactured products in many different ways, you should not consider this article as legal advice. Read it as general information on product liability topics.