Manufacturers are required to ensure that their products are safe when used correctly or to warn consumers if the product has some risk involved. This does not always happen, and the results can be serious injuries and death for those who use defective products.
If you or a loved one has been injured or someone has died due to a product-related injury accident, you may be entitled to receive compensation through a product liability lawsuit. While no amount of money can make up for the suffering and negative effects on your life, compensation will bring justice, remove your financial burdens, and help prevent others from harm in the future.
Product liability law in Texas is complicated, and it requires proving that the manufacturer is liable for your injuries. This can be proven through an extensive investigation of the product and thorough documentation of the accident and injuries. Large businesses and their insurance companies have a wealth of resources, including a high-priced legal team, and they will want to fight your case and pay out as little as possible. This is not something you should combat on your own. To make sure you can prove your case, consult with an attorney experienced in product liability, someone who knows how to prove that a defect or failure to warn is what caused your accident.
How to Prove a Product is Defective
Products that are used properly and have not been substantially changed from their original condition should work as intended and not do harm. Although some products, such as some medications or power tools, for example, are inherently dangerous, these should carry warnings so that you know the risks involved before using them and you know how to use them correctly.
Texas product liability claims (CPRC Title 4 Chapter 82) operate under the concept of strict liability. If you have been harmed by a defective product, you need to show that you did not misuse, alter, or tamper with the product, and the manufacturer, designer, or retailer associated with the product could be held liable. You do not have to prove negligence.
To win your case, your attorney must be able to legally prove the following elements:
The product was not changed after leaving the manufacturer.
You were using the product as it was intended.
The product is defective and this defect caused your injury.
You suffered damages as a result.
Criteria for Proving Defective Product Liability
There are three types of product liability that Texas recognizes: design defects, manufacturing defects, and failure to warn.
Sometimes there is a problem in the design of a product, and even if it is manufactured and used correctly, it can cause injuries. In order to successfully prove that design defects caused the injury, you must demonstrate that:
The danger created by the product’s design was unreasonable.
It was possible for the manufacturer to use a less-dangerous design.
Using this design would have been technically and financially reasonable.
The alternative design would not significantly compromise the usefulness of the product.
The defect was the cause of the injury or property loss.
Just because a product is dangerous, this does not prove the design is defective. For example, chainsaws are inherently dangerous, and if you are careless using one, you can cut off a finger — but this is not defective design. On the other hand, a chain saw that explodes when used correctly might be defective and unreasonably dangerous due to a design defect.
These are defects that originated during the manufacturing process, even if the design was correct. Manufacturing defects may be caused by errors in quality control or production and may not be found in every item produced.
Unlike design defects, specific criteria are not necessary for a manufacturing defect liability claim. You do have to show clear evidence of the product’s defect and deviation from the design, and that it caused a dangerous condition that was responsible for your injuries.
Failure to Warn
Manufacturers are required to provide instructions for safe use of their products and to warn of any potential product hazards that are not readily apparent. You must be able to show that the dangerous quality of the product is not obvious to the ordinary consumer and that any warnings and instructions provided were not sufficient to prevent harm.
If someone other than the manufacturer modified the product before it reached consumers, then you may also need to prove negligence. This means showing that the party owed you a duty not to cause harm, but breached that duty, and that this breach caused the injuries and damages you received.
How to Prove a Defect Caused Your Accident
In order to prove liability, you must be able to show that injuries occurred due to the product in question and that the product was defective. In some cases, an expert evaluation will be needed to prove that the product was defective under one of the criteria described above. If the defect was in design, all copies of the product would then be defective.
You must be able to prove that your injuries were caused by the defective product. This can be done through an investigation of the accident, gathering of evidence such as from the defective product itself, photographs and videos of what happened and of your injuries, examination of police and medical records, and statements from any witnesses.
To help prove liability, you should:
Save the product, all packaging, instruction manuals, safety warnings, and any receipts.
Seek medical attention for your injuries, and keep records of all medical visits, tests, and treatment.
Document what happened, how your injuries are progressing, and the effects on your life. Also, document your financial burden from the injuries, including medical and rehabilitation bills, pay stubs, and tax returns for lost wages.
Proving a Defect Caused a Car Accident
Because cars and other motor vehicles have the capacity to do major destruction, when a defect causes a car accident, the results can be horrific injuries and death. Common defects that can cause accidents include defective brakes, tires, seatbelts, and airbags. The same criteria applies for proving that a vehicle or its parts were defective as for other products.
In a successful product liability case, you may win an award intended to cover your economic or monetary losses for medical and rehabilitation bills, property damage, and lost income. You may also win an award for your less-tangible non-economic damages such as physical and emotional pain and suffering. In some rare cases, punitive damages may also be awarded to punish a wrongdoer.
However, proving product liability is complicated, and insurance companies will try to get you to accept the lowest settlement possible or even claim you are responsible for the accident.
At this difficult time when you are dealing with trying to recover from your accident, the experienced product liability lawyers at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law can help. Let us take the burden off you by handling all the investigations, negotiations, and legal hurdles and requirements involved with proving a defect caused your accident and getting you the settlement you and your family deserve.
You pay nothing unless and until we win an award for you, so don’t delay. Call us now at 713-973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000 for your free case evaluation.
Terry Bryant is Board Certified in personal injury trial law, which means his extensive knowledge of the law has been recognized by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, setting him apart from many other injury attorneys. The 22 years he spent as a Municipal Judge, Spring Valley Village, TX also provides him keen insight into the Texas court system. That experience also helps shape his perspective on personal injury cases and how they might resolve. This unique insight benefits his clients. [ Attorney Bio ]