Products Liability Due to Defective Design

This month, a federal judge set a trial date in a products liability case against Toyota. The plaintiff claimed that Toyota Camrys would suddenly accelerate, causing crashes and injuries, and that the problem was due to a design defect in the Camrys themselves.

A design defect occurs when the manufacturer designs a product in such a way as to make it unsafe. In the Toyota case, the plaintiff claimed that the Toyota gas pedals were improperly designed, causing them to stick to the floor and accelerate the car out of control.

Product liability in Oregon

In Oregon, product liability claims (including those based on design defects) are governed by a specific statute that states that a defendant is liable for the harm caused by its product if the following conditions are met:

  • The defendant's business involves selling the product.
  • When the consumer purchased the product, it was in the same condition as when it left the manufacturer.
  • The product is defective and those defects caused it to be unreasonably dangerous to the consumer.

If those conditions are met, sellers are liable for any damages caused by the product — even if the sellers were as careful as possible in manufacturing it.

"Unreasonably dangerous" products in Oregon

The Oregon Supreme Court has ruled that the terms "unreasonably dangerous" and "defective" mean the product contains a danger not expected by the ordinary consumer. For example, an ordinary consumer would not expect a trampoline to contain a design defect that causes it to rip open while a child is jumping on it. Similarly, in the Toyota case, a consumer would not expect the gas pedal to stick to the floor.

Products liability litigation is a technical field that requires the services of expert engineers and seasoned attorneys. The Salem lawyers at Harris, Wyatt & Amala have years of experience representing clients who are injured as a result of product defects. They can properly assess your case and work with you to obtain the compensation you deserve.

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