Defective products cause thousands of injuries every year. From recalled vehicles due to defective airbags, to recalled pieces of furniture due to toppling risks, too many products that contain hazardous defects are sold to the American public.
If you are injured by a defective product of any type, you may have a claim for damages against the designer and manufacturer, as well as any distributor, importer, or seller in the chain of distribution who is liable for injury caused by a defective product. However, before you file your lawsuit, it is important that there are actually a few different ways a product’s liability claim can be approached. The three different types of product liability claims include—
- Design Defect Product Liability Claims
The first type of product liability claim is a lawsuit that is based on the defective design of a product. A civil action based on defective design alleges that the product is inherently dangerous based on its design alone, rather than an error made during the manufacture of the product. For example, a car that is top heavy – and therefore poses a high risk of rollover/tip-over – is an example of a defectively designed product that could be the cause of a product liability claim.
- Manufacturing Defects Product Liability Claims
Manufacturing defects are the most common cause of product liability claims. A lawsuit based on a manufacturing defect alleges that the original design of the product is completely safe, but that something happened during the manufacturing process to make the product unsafe. A manufacturing defect exists if the product does not conform to its intended design and fails to perform safely as the intended design would have performed. In products liability law, if a product is unreasonably dangerous because of its design if the product fails to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when used as intended or in a manner reasonably foreseeable by the manufacturer, or the risk of harm in the design outweighs the benefits.
For example, consider a set of tires: the tires themselves are designed to support the weight of a vehicle, resist punctures, and hold up against wear and tear – by accepted standards, the tires are safe for use.
However, during the manufacture of these well-designed tires, sawdust gets into the adhesive glue that is used to secure the tire together, resulting in a high risk of tire tread separation, tire blowout, and a serious accident.
- Warning or/and Labeling Defects Product Liability Claims
In a product liability claim that focuses on a warning or labeling defect, the plaintiff alleges that the product or products had some sort of inherent danger and that the manufacturer of those products had a legal duty to warn of this danger but failed to do so. This is very common with prescription medications; a patient may take a certain medication, only to experience adverse side effects that were not disclosed by the pharmaceutical company. Strict liability based on a defective warning can apply to both unavoidably and not unavoidably unsafe products. Significantly, manufacturers are not required to warn of every possible risk, but only those risks that are discoverable in light of the generally recognized and prevailing best knowledge available. Lastly, a warning may be defective due to inadequate wording, location of the warning, or other circumstances concerning the manner in which the warning is conveyed.
Warning or labeling defects can occur with nearly any type of product – consider the infamous McDonald’s hot coffee case, in which McDonald’s was sued after a customer spilled a hot cup of coffee on herself, suffering serious burns. The woman sued the fast food chain, who admitted that it had not warned customers of the nature and extent of the risk of serious burns from spilled coffee.
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.
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.
Experienced Texas Product Liability Attorney
If you think that you may have a case against a manufacturer or distributor of a dangerous product that caused you injuries, please contact our law offices today about your product liability claim. At the Meriwether Law Firm, our knowledgeable Texas defective product trial attorneys are here to advocate for you.
Contact us online or at (713) 322-9993 today.