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Understanding Product Liability: When is a Product Unavoidably Unsafe?

By: Anapol Weiss

When a product that has been carefully designed, manufactured and marketed still injures someone, responsibility partially depends on whether the product qualifies as an “unavoidably unsafe product.” A product found to be unavoidably unsafe is not considered defective, even if it causes injury.

Three factors can cause a product to be defective. These include:

  1. Design defect: the product’s design could cause injury, and an alternative design could have reduced the risk of injury

  1. Manufacturer defect: the product was manufactured with a flaw

  1. Marketing defect: the product has inadequate instructions or warnings about foreseeable risks

The manufacturer, distributor or seller of a product is typically responsible if a product is defective in its design, marketing or manufacture and someone is injured as a result. One exception is a product that is considered unavoidably unsafe. An unavoidably unsafe product is incapable of being made safe for its intended and ordinary use. Four criteria help the courts determine if a product is unavoidably unsafe:

  • Whether the product was prepared correctly and works effectively

  • Whether the product was appropriately marketed with adequate warnings and instructions

  • Whether the utility or usefulness of the product outweighs its risk of danger

  • Whether there are alternatives available to fully achieve the intended purpose of the product

The court may examine the type and quality of research regarding a product when deciding whether it is unavoidably unsafe. Courts also consider the product’s necessity to human life and public health and whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has compared its risk to its utility.

Product liability law involves complex legal matters that require the knowledge and skill of an experienced law firm. If you believe you were harmed by a defective product, we can investigate the situation and determine if a design, manufacturing or marketing defect is to blame. Contact Anapol Weiss to speak with a product liability attorney today.