Consumers often become frustrated with a product they feel does not work as advertised. If a product causes an injury or death, the impact obviously is a great deal more significant than frustration. If numerous people have suffered similarly from the same product defect, a mass tort or class action lawsuit may be warranted.
A product liability claim in Texas is a strict liability offense, meaning that negligence is not a factor. If the product directly resulted in harm, the defendant is liable. Under guidelines set in the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, a plaintiff seeking damages for injuries or death caused by a defective product must prove one of three things:
- There is a design defect
- There is a manufacturing defect
- The manufacturer failed to provide sufficient warning about the product’s use
Proving a design defect
If a claimant alleges there is a design defect, the claimant must show that there is a safer alternative design that would have significantly reduced the risk of injury. This alternative design must be economically and technologically feasible, while maintaining the product’s use and utility.
The claimant must also prove that the injury or death resulted from the design defect and not because of misuse or for other reasons.
Proving a manufacturing defect
A claim based on a manufacturing defect purports that the product design is safe, but something about how the product was manufactured resulted in it not performing as it was designed, making the product unsafe. A common example of a manufacturer defect is a set of tires that are designed to support the weight of a vehicle, resist puncturing and hold up to regular use, yet a defect in the production of the tire results in tire tread separation and tire blowout.
Proving failure to properly warn
The third type of product liability claim is based on a manufacturer’s failure to properly warn about inherent danger in use of the product. This is common with prescription medications. A patient must be made aware of all possible side effects prior to taking the medication.
Manufacturers are only required to warn about risks that are known as a result of the generally recognized and best knowledge available. A warning may be defective due to inadequate wording, improper location of the warning or other circumstances pertaining to how the warning was delivered.
Successfully obtaining damages in a products liability lawsuit requires extensive knowledge of Texas and federal consumer protection laws. These cases are aggressively defended, often with significant resources. An equally aggressive approach is necessary on the part of the plaintiff’s lawyer.