consumer expectations test

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In a products liability tort case, a standard used for determining if a design defect exists. The consumer expectation test makes the seller of a product liable if the product is in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the consumer. The standard allows a jury to infer the existence of a defect if product fails to meet reasonable expectations of consumers. In a case where there is no evidence, direct or circumstantial, available to prove exactly what sort of manufacturing flaw existed, a plaintiff may establish his right to recover by proving that the product did not perform in keeping with the reasonable expectations of the user. A product falls beneath consumer expectations when the product fails under conditions concerning which an average consumer of that product could have fairly definite expectations.

The consumer expectations test is inappropriate where technical and mechanical defects are alleged which require understanding of precise behaviors of obscure components of products under complex circumstances of a particular accident.