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How do courts determine what is a defective product?

Under the basic premise of products liability, manufacturers have a duty to ensure that the products they sell to the public are not unreasonably dangerous. Although this area of law can be quite complicated, it is generally assumed that consumers usually purchase products based largely on what they assume to be the product's purpose.

Much of that consumer expectation is predicated on the manner in which products are marketed. For example, a person shopping for milk at a grocery store would not expect to find laundry bleach packaged in similar containers next to the milk in the dairy aisle.

In a nutshell, one way to measure a defective product's dangerousness to the public is to consider what an average consumer would expect when purchasing the item. This has come to be known as the "consumer expectation test" in products liability law.

However useful, the consumer expectations test is not always easy for plaintiffs to prove in court. For example, a plaintiff injured in a vehicle rollover accident may also require the testimony of an expert witness. It is not enough to allege that a vehicle manufacturer should have foreseen that occupants could be injured after experiencing a vehicle rollover. An expert in vehicle safety design may still be required to prove the vehicle was defective according to reasonable consumer expectations.

If you have been injured by a product you believe is unreasonably dangerous, Illinois law provides you with a legal way to seek compensation for your injuries. Your Illinois defective products attorney can help you with evaluating the circumstances of your case and determining whether an expert witness is required in order for your lawsuit to prevail.

Source: Product Liability Monitor, "Even Plaintiffs Relying On the “Consumer Expectations” Test Must Present Expert Testimony" Scott Dayton, Dec. 18, 2014

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