A manufacturer has a duty to design products that are reasonably safe as designed. A product may not be reasonably safe because adequate warnings or instructions were not provided. In both design defect and failure to warn/instruct cases, the determination of whether the product is not reasonably safe generally turns on two tests: (1) a Risk Utility/Balancing Test and (2) the reasonable expectations of the consumer. In addition, where there is “privity” (that is, some direct relationship) between consumer and manufacturer, the product must conform to that manufacturer’s warranties, whether they are express or implied.
In all these contexts, the question often comes down to reasonableness. Is the product reasonably safe for its intended purpose, or are do safer alternatives exist, balancing factors like the cost and utility of the product? Are the warnings or instructions that accompany a product sufficient to put a reasonable consumer on notice of potential risks and the ways to mitigate them? Do the manufacturer’s advertisements convey to a reasonable person that a product can be safely used in a particular way?
Obviously, the answers to these and other questions turn on the unique facts surrounding the product. If you or a loved one have been injured by a product, you should consult with an attorney experienced attorney about any recourse you may have.