Minnesota personal injury attorney Paul Peterson explains how product liability claims arise.
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The four steps come from the world of engineering. This isn’t lawyers or judges or legislators making up these four steps. And engineers will tell you across the board that the first step is to identify all the hazards associated with the machine or the equipment involved. The next step is that an engineer should be trying to design out of the system any hazard that can be designed out. So if there’s a cutting blade and it can be completely encased within the housing of the equipment without allowing an operator to get access to it that’s a design and the design will eliminate the hazard. If you can’t eliminate hazards and often you can’t eliminate all hazards, then guarding or safety, basically guarding is involved.
A common guard that we’re all familiar with is if you try to start your car and it’s not in park it’s in drive, you’ve left it in drive when you turn off the car won’t turn over. That’s called an interlock guard and what it does is it doesn’t allow power in the situation where we don’t want power occurring, so that’s engineering involved. And the final step and this is only if the others don’t work, is to use warnings or instructions either on their own or in conjunction with some guarding involved in the design of the equipment.