Defects in the design, manufacturing, or marketing of products can result in serious personal injuries. At The Burkett Law Firm, our Corpus Christi personal injury lawyers help you hold those at fault accountable. Find out more about product liability lawsuits and when you can sue for a defective product in Texas.
Statistics on product liability lawsuits in Texas
The Texas Department of Insurance reports that close to 800 liability claims are filed throughout the state each year. Among the most common concerns dangerous and defective products. Common types of products involved in these claims include:
- Child car safety seats;
- Children’s toys;
- Cleaning products;
- Foods and beverages;
- Medications and medical devices.
Personal injuries caused by product defects often include burns, deep cuts, electrical shocks, and accidental poisoning. Sadly, children are among the most common victims. Common injuries they suffer include choking on small parts, falls, and strangulation due to drawstrings and cords.
What is product liability?
Manufacturers and distributors have a legal duty to ensure product safety and can be held liable for dangerous defects. Under the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, product liability arises out of the following:
- Design defects: Defects in design can make an entire line of products unsafe. Examples include top-heavy SUVs, which are more likely to roll over, and power tools that lack safety guards.
- Manufacturing defects: Examples of mistakes in manufacturing include sharp, unfinished edges on household appliances and loose pieces on children’s toys.
- Marketing defects: These involve how a product is presented to the public. Examples include failing to provide proper instructions for assembly or use of the product and failing to warn consumers about safety hazards, such as medication side effects.
What is product liability insurance?
Product liability insurance protects manufacturers, distributors, and sellers in the event that product defects result in personal injuries. It is generally included as part of a Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance policy and covers the following:
- Personal injuries costs, such as medical expenses and lost wages;
- Property damages;
- Funeral expenses and other costs in the event injuries prove fatal.
The amount you may be entitled to in a product liability claim will depend on the amount of insurance coverage the company has in place. The Texas Department of Insurance (DOI) advises that while product liability insurance is not required by law, it is strongly recommended.
How do you prove a product liability case?
If product liability insurance is not in place, you may be entitled to compensation through a lawsuit. There are four elements you need to prove in a product liability insurance claim in Texas.
- You were hurt and/or suffered some type of loss. You must have suffered some type of tangible injury or loss in order to file a claim.
- The product has some type of defect. You must show that design, manufacturing, or marketing defects in the product were to blame.
- That defect led to your injury. You must show that the defect was the direct cause of your injuries. For example, a pulled muscle while using power tools has nothing to do with whether a safety guard was attached.
- You were using the product according to its instructions and design. Not following product instructions or using it in a manner that was not intended will make you ineligible for compensation in a claim.
You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and punitive damages in a product liability lawsuit. Punitive damages are an additional amount our Corpus Christi personal injury lawyers can push for in cases where manufacturers or sellers acted in a particularly willful and negligent manner, such as knowing selling products they knew were hazardous.
What is the statute of limitations for a Texas product liability lawsuit?
Texas statutes of limitations dictate the amount of time you have for filing a lawsuit. In personal injury cases, it is two years from the date the injury happened. In product liability lawsuits, the court goes by a statute of repose, which is based on when you purchased the product.
The statute of repose in Texas liability claims is no later than 15 years from the original product purchase date. This prevents unlimited immunity for product manufacturers, distributors, or sellers while establishing a reasonable lifespan for the use of the product.
Who can be held liable in a product liability case?
Products typically go through many hands before reaching consumers. In product liability cases, you may be entitled to file a claim against any of the following:
- The product designer or architect;
- The manufacturing company that created and assembled parts;
- Wholesale suppliers and distributors;
- Retailers/vendors or anyone who had a hand in reselling the product.