Defective products are responsible for thousands of injuries in Texas and across the United States every year. A defective product is any product that is unreasonably dangerous and that can cause injury when a consumer uses it according to its intended purpose. Some examples of defective products include:
- medical devices
- prescription drugs or vaccines
- children’s toys machinery equipment
- automobile parts
While both personal injury and products liability cases seek to protect the rights of injured parties to compensation, in some ways a products liability claim is less challenging to prove, as it can move forward without relying on actual negligence or intent to harm. The plaintiff must only show that harm occurred and the defendant’s responsibility for causing the harm, regardless of the consumer’s own negligence.
The elements of a Texas products liability claim
Products liability cases are guided by state law under the legal theories of negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty. Under Texas law, a product liability claim may move forward under strict liability by proving one of three elements:
- A design defect in the product, which is inherent and makes the product potentially harmful even before it has been manufactured.
- A manufacturing defect, which occurred during the manufacture or construction of the product. In this case, only some products are defective.
- The manufacturer’s failure to warn the consumer of the product’s intended use, usually with insufficient or improper instructions or warnings.
Liability for a product defect may extend not only to the trademark owner, but also to other parties along the chain of distribution:
- The product manufacturer
- The component parts manufacturer
- The party assembling the product
- The wholesaler
- The retailer
Proving product defect liability
While strict liability does not require proof of negligence or intent to harm, it can be challenging to prove the defendant’s responsibility in some instances. For example, some products, such as an electric knife, are inherently dangerous, whether they are being used properly or not. In this case, plaintiff would have to prove that the warning labels were insufficient. Another defense might be that the plaintiff misused the product, or that they altered the product after purchase, thereby causing the plaintiff’s injuries.
In Houston and surrounding areas, the success of any defective products case will hinge on the testimony of expert witnesses, as well as experienced legal advocacy that will hold responsible parties liable.