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Manufacturing vs. design defects: What is the difference?

If you suffer injuries in a New York plane crash, or your loved one dies in a crash, in all likelihood you will want to sue the manufacturer of the plane and/or of its component parts. When you do so, strict liability law applies. What this means is that you need not prove that the manufacturer(s) acted negligently in order to prevail in your lawsuit.

As FindLaw explains, what you must prove instead is that a defect existed in the plane's design and/or in its manufacturing process. But what is the difference between these two types of defects?

Defective design

You could think of a design defect as a "planned" or "intended" one. Given that someone, or a team of someones, designed the plane, (s)he or they planned the design. On paper or on a computer, the design worked. In actuality, it failed to work properly. In other words, the plane's defective design itself makes every one of the individual planes in this line dangerous, no matter how careful the manufacturing process.

Defective manufacture

Manufacturing defects are the flip side of design defects. You could think of a manufacturing defect as an "unplanned" one, i.e., a mistake. Here the problem is not with the plane's design, but with the way in which a specific plane in this line went through its manufacturing process. For instance, it may have been manufactured using substandard parts. Or certain of its bolts may not have been sufficiently tightened. Or some of its panels may not have been properly welded together.

This is general information only and not intended to provide legal advice.

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