One of the three categories of product liability claims involves manufacturing defects. If a product has been defectively manufactured, it is flawed because of something that happened while it was being made. In a Georgia manufacturing defect case, there is an assumption that the design of the product is safe, and that any product manufactured in accordance with such design would have been safe for consumer use. The manufacturing defect can be shown by comparing the product at issue in the case with a properly manufactured unit from the same product line.
The second type of product liability claim arises when a product’s design is unreasonably dangerous (i.e., defective). Defective design claims do not involve errors or mishaps during the manufacturing process. Instead, they involve claims that, because of the way it has been designed, an entire line of products is unsafe for consumers. These cases tend to be more complicated and more costly than those involving manufacturing defects. This is because unlike in manufacturing defect cases, where the product at issue can be compared to a product known to have been manufactured according to the design specifications, there is no clear, objective measure of the product’s defectiveness. Georgia courts must instead employ a highly subjective “risk-utility balancing analysis” to determine whether a product has been defectively designed. Under this balancing test, the risks inherent in a product’s design are weighed against the utility (or benefit) derived from the product. The more utility a product provides its user, the more inherently dangerous it can be before it is deemed to be defective.
Another important distinction between manufacturing defect claims and design defect claims in Georgia is that product manufacturers are held strictly liable for manufacturing defects that cause injuries, whereas they will not be held liable for defectively designed products that cause injuries unless they acted negligently (i.e., unreasonably). In other words, a company will only be held liable for a defectively designed product where it is shown that the company did not exercise reasonable care in designing the product so as to make the product reasonably safe for its intended or foreseeable uses.
The third type of product liability claim involves a failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions to users of the product. These failure-to-warn claims typically arise in situations where the product in dangerous in such a way that it is not obvious to those using it, or some kind of special precautions or diligence should be observed while doing so. Where a duty to warn arises, it can be breached either by failing to adequately communicate the warning to the ultimate user, or by failing to provide an adequate warning of the product’s potential risk or harm.
In these cases, a seller or distributor of the product may also have a duty to warn of dangers to users at the time the product is sold – but this is only true when the manufacturer has failed to provide such a warning. In other words, a seller of a product in Georgia has no duty to warn of a danger that the manufacturer has already printed on the product itself. Under Georgia law, a seller is only required to supplement a manufacturer’s warning regarding a product when it “is aware of a danger either not communicated by the manufacturer’s warning or substantively different from the dangers the manufacturer has included in a warning label.”
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If you or someone in your family has been injured by a product, you need to consult with an experienced product liability attorney as soon as possible. The Athens Injury Law Group’s team of dedicated personal injury lawyers are ready to help you.
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