The use of products pervades our everyday life. Choose these products wisely. Think about the products we put on and in our bodies, the product we use to protect ourselves, and the products we trust with our children. What if these products were defective or discovered to be dangerous?
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, such products cause thousands of injuries every year in the United States. Product Liability Law establishes who is responsible for the injuries resulting from defective and dangerous products. This set of rules differs from typical personal injury law making it easier for injured persons to recoup damages.
Disturbingly, you are more vulnerable than you might think to defective or dangerous products. One thing is true, in this litigious society, an at-fault company cannot escape the long-reaching arm of a product liability lawsuit. Our personal injury lawyer Austin team is here to help you navigate these tricky waters.
Product Liability Law
Under Product Liability Law, the seller or manufacturer can be held liable for distributing defective or dangerous products to consumers. This responsibility extends to every seller included in the distribution or supply chain. Generally, the law requires a product to meet the ordinary expectations of the consumer. As expected, a surprisingly dangerous or defective product fails to meet these standards.
There is no federal product liability law; it falls to the individual states to process product liability claims. Product Liability Claims are sought under the theories of breach of warranty, negligence, misleading or false advertisement, or strict liability. Additionally, each state has a set of commercial statutes with warranty clauses that affect product liability.
The Role of Warranty
A warranty is a kind of guarantee that a seller provides regarding product quality. Warranties may be communicated to consumers by representations of the product quality. Should the product’s quality is inferior to its portrayal, the seller could be held liable for a breach of express warranty. Additionally, some product warranties may be implied depending upon the nature of the sale.
Each state has adopted the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), which serves as the basis for warranties in the United States. The UCC identifies two types of product warranties:
- Implied Warranty of Merchantability. A promise that the product sold is in good working order and will do what it is supposed to do.
- Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose. A promise that a seller’s advice on how to use the product sold will be correct.
Tort Theory of Negligence
Under product liability law, a consumer must prove the five elements to establish negligence.
- the manufacturer owed a duty to the consumer
- the manufacturer breached said duty to the consumer
- the breach of duty directly caused the consumers injury
- the breach of duty proximately caused the consumer’s injury
- the consumer suffered tangible damages that resulted from the manufacturer’s negligent actions
The law requires manufacturers to exercise a reasonable standard of care. This standard of care derives from expert manufacturers of similar products. However, should the manufacturer fail to provide the proper standard of care, an injured party must still prove at least two aspects of causation to recover damages.
Misleading Information or False Advertising
Such claims ensue when a person who relies on the information expressed by the seller and suffers harm by said information may file under misrepresentation. Accordingly, the foundation for recovery does not rely on a product defect; instead, the foundation forms based on false communication.
Misrepresentation appears in one of three following forms:
- First, a manufacturer may commit negligent misrepresentation, specifically negligence determining the accuracy of a statement.
- Second, some jurisdictions allow for strict liability in circumstances when a manufacturer delivers a public statement regarding the safety of a product.
- Third, a manufacturer may engage in fraudulent misrepresentation or deliberate deceit to mislead consumers with a knowingly false product statement.
The Doctrine of Strict Liability
Strict liability assigns liability to a party even without demonstrable negligence. The Restatement (Second) of Torts created strict liability on the part of the manufacturer. Wherein a manufacturer is liable for product defects that occur in the manufacturing process, notwithstanding the level of care engaged by the manufacturer. Courts extended these principles to include cases in which manufacturers fail to provide consumers ample warnings.
Under the Restatement (Third) of Torts, product liability applies strict liability rules to cases involving manufacturing errors while adhering to negligence rules for other types of product liability cases.
Product Posses Defect of Hazard
Finally, for damages to be recovered, a consumer must prove that the product possed some defect or hazard. Regardless of which theory or theories of recovery the consumer attempts to prove. Generally, three types of defects may lead to a liability claim: manufacturing, warning, and design defects.
A defect the manufacturer did not intend is a strict liability case. For instance, an exercise machine’s weight clutch malfunctions causing the consumer to have an accident. It doesn’t matter that the manufacturer didn’t intend for a clutch malfunction. Even with a sound, non-negligent product design, strict liability law could hold the manufacturer liable.
Proving defect malfunction caused an injury isn’t always easy. For example, if a car defect leads to a severe crash that left the car mangled, it is hard to prove what caused the accident. Occasionally, a consumer may be able to stand on the “malfunction doctrine” to prove causation. This doctrine establishes that if circumstances of an accident point to defect causation, the consumer can provide evidence that negates other possible causes, successfully proving causation.
This defect occurs when a manufacturer fails to give warnings concerning the degree of danger a product poses. A manufacturer is obliged to execute two related duties.
- First, the manufacturer must warn consumers of unseen dangers possibly present in the product.
- Second, the manufacturer must instruct consumers to use the product correctly to avoid potential dangers.
For example, if a fan is prone to overheat after three hours of operation, a manufacturer warning must communicate the potential fire risk. A failure to do so would open them up to potential product liability suits.
Manufacturer warnings must be specific, clear, and placed conspicuously on the product or packaging. To cover all of their bases, most manufacturers provide warnings in multiple languages and symbols for children and non-English speakers to successfully communicate the potential product dangers.
A product design defect arises when foreseeable harmful risks posed by the product could have been avoided or reduced by adopting a reasonable alternative design by the seller or other distributor. Or by a predecessor in the commercial chain of distribution, and the omission of the alternative design renders the product not reasonably safe.
These cases typically focus on the manufacturer’s decisions regarding product creation, particularly for decisions concerning product safety. Dissimilar to manufacturing defect cases, design defect cases examine the manufacturer’s plans to produce the product. For example, take a metal fan with metal guards spaced three-quarters of an inch apart. A consumer’s finger could easily slip between the guard, causing the consumer harm. The manufacturer may be held liable for not reasonably placing the guard closer together to prevent consumers from injury.
Texas Statue of Limitations
Under Texas law, an action must be brought within two years from the date in which the occurrence of the injury took place.
First, should you be harmed by a product, seek immediate medical attention. Second, document everything. From the original packaging to the product as it appears currently. Record your version of events as soon as possible. It’s crucial to include as many details as possible. Our personal injury lawyer Austin team is here to help you. We are experienced and well versed in product liability law to fight for the settlement you deserve. As there is a strict statute of limitations for these suits, you must contact the personal injury lawyer Austin team as soon as possible so we may start advocating for your rights.
To find out how we can help you, contact our Personal Injury Lawyer Austin team at 512-400-7070 or send us a message. We will schedule an initial client consultation to review your case details and lay out a game plan for your personal injury case. Additionally, we will not charge you for our services unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for your case. Whether you are dealing with an uninsured motorist, the manufacturer of a defective product, or an insurance company, AZ Law Firm will pursue the legal action necessary to secure justice and financial restitution for you and your loved ones.
- evaluating and explaining to you the pros and cons of your individual case
- discussing with you any available options and our proposed strategies as it relates to your case
- providing guidance and recommendations regarding any proposed settlement offer
- quickly and effectively communicating with you during each step of the process so that you are not left in the dark
- taking your case solely on a contingent fee basis
- and aggressively protecting and defending your rights
We understand times are tough and that there probably hasn’t been a tougher time in your life. Although our Personal Injury Lawyer Austin team could get away with charging exuberant amounts, we prefer not to as we are a law firm by the people, for the people. We do not want you to worry about whether you can afford to hire an attorney to protect and defend your rights. Call us and be surprised at the quality you receive compared to what other law firms will quote you!
Accordingly, the attorneys at AZ Law Firm will always provide you with a free initial consultation. During this initial consultation, one of our personal injury lawyer Dallas affiliates will evaluate your case, inform you of any legal options that may be available, and allow you to ask any questions that you may have. AZ Law Firm offers affordable rates for all our clients and will work with you on payment plans. Our firm accepts checks, debit cards, and most major credit cards to cover the costs of your legal representation.