Do you have a case? How you can tell – and what may lie ahead of you
Most of us take for granted that the products we use every day are safe. However, manufacturers do make errors when they design, produce and market many consumer products. These errors can lead to devastating personal injuries and death.
Such errors can happen for many reasons; sometimes because companies are eager to roll out a product to market so they can make profits. Sometimes, product safety is not the top priority.
If you are injured by a defective product in Texas, don’t worry: You have legal options in the Lone Star State, and we’ll walk you through what to do.
Texas recognizes three types of product defects that we will detail here. If you can show that a product you possessed had one of these three defects and it led to your injuries, you may be entitled to compensation.
However, you must meet high standards to prove that such a defect exists and led to your injuries. An experienced personal injury attorney is usually invaluable to prove a Texas product liability case.
Texas product liability basics
Product liability in Texas is a strict liability offense. This means that negligence does not matter. If there is a defect in the product and the product led to harm, the defendant is liable. This is based upon Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Chapter 82.
The three types of product defects recognized under Texas state law
A product with a defective design endangers the user even if it is made flawlessly. Note that showing a product is dangerous is very different from proving that it has a defective design. If the product is clearly dangerous to any ‘reasonable’ user, the manufacturer cannot be successfully sued for any injuries.
The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code states that a plaintiff claiming a product has a design defect must show not just that the design was unsafe. She also must prove that:
- A less dangerous design could have been used
- Using that design would have been reasonable from a financial and technological standpoint
- The alternative design would have kept most of the product’s use and utility, while reducing risk of injury
The injured party also must prove that any injuries occurred from the design defect and not for other reasons.
Some design defect cases could include the following:
- Toy that can be easily swallowed by a small child
- Type of car that accelerates suddenly on its own
- A gun safety that still allows the gun to be fired
Failure to warn
A product under Texas law may also be considered defective when the manufacturer does not provide proper warning and/or instructions about its use.
For instance, if the product has a danger that is either unexpected or unforeseeable when used, the manufacturer must provide a warning label or warning statement.
Also, if the product must be used in a certain way to reduce injury risk, the manufacturer must provide instructions. Failure in either case can result in a product liability claim.
Some possible examples of a failure to warn case are:
- A birth control drug that causes serious medical problems
- A child’s chair that clamps on a table that falls if not properly installed
- A log splitting device that causes serious injury if one’s hand is in the wrong place
A manufacturing defect is a chance event, and is not always present in every identical product. Such defects usually are caused by errors in quality control or production. You need not meet special criteria to prove that the manufacturing defect is grounds for a liability claim.
However, you must demonstrate clear evidence of the product defect. This can present serious challenges if the product was damaged or destroyed from the manufacturing defect.
Some common manufacturing defect cases include:
- Tread separation on tires
- Safety lock on a car does not engage
- Faulty handle on a car seat breaks
Defective pharmaceuticals in Texas
The laws for defective pharmaceuticals in Texas differ a bit.
If a manufacturer uses a warning that was created or approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), the manufacturer may avoid liability.
However, if the product manufacturer concealed information from the FDA, it could be liable.
Manufacturers may also be held liable for failure to warn if they recommend using any medicine for an off-label use that FDA did not approve.
Texas product claims process
For a product with any of the above defects, the statute of limitations to file a claim is 15 years from the date of purchase.
You may have additional time in Texas if the injury had a delayed onset, or if the product manufacturer offers a longer warranty. The 15 year time limit (also called the statute of repose) has been affirmed in case law – see Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Company v. Poole Chemical Company.
Jurisdiction of the case may be an issue when components of the case are tied to different areas. See Lexology’s article on personal jurisdiction in products liability cases.
Defective vehicle claims in Texas
One of the most common product liability cases in Texas is for defective vehicle design.
A typical vehicle has thousands of working parts that can and do fail, or may have been improperly designed. Some of the most common defective vehicle claims that have injured or killed Texans in recent years include:
- Failure of seat belts
- Defective tires
- SUV rollover crashes
- Airbag defects
- Roof failure
- Gas tank rupture and explosion
- Defective child car seats
- Failure of seat back
- Defective door latches
It should be noted that every vehicle has many manufacturers and designers for each part. If you are injured by a defective part in a vehicle, many parties could potentially be held liable:
- Car manufacturer
- Manufacturer of parts
- Company that installs or assembles the product
- The wholesale company
- Retail store that sold the product
Common defenses by suppliers and manufacturers of defective products
Of course, product liability claims can get very expensive for the defendant, so most will do their best to make a strong defense against a liability claim.
The most common defense is that the plaintiff did not properly identify the supplier of the product that led to the alleged injury. You must connect the product to the parties who actually manufactured or supplied it.
Another common defense is that the plaintiff altered the product and this led to the injury.
Large companies employ many different means to avoid payouts in liability claims. So speaking to a personal injury lawyer about your product liability case may be a smart move. Read up on how to pick a good Texas attorney for your case.
Did you know that product liability law varies by state?
What does an injury lawyer do?
A personal injury lawyer helps individuals who have sustained injuries in accidents to recover financial compensation. These funds are often needed to pay for medical treatment, make up for lost wages and provide compensation for injuries suffered. Sometimes a case that seems simple at first may become more complicated. In these cases, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Read more
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