Product Liability Attorney
If you have used a product as it was intended (or in a manner reasonably foreseeable by the designers of the product) and you were injured, you may have a product liability claim. Under Texas law, product liability cases generally fall under three broad categories: injury due to product design defects, injury due to product manufacturing defects, and injury due to inadequate warnings on or accompanying the product.
A product that is dangerous due to a defective design means that the product has a fundamental flaw or defect. One of the most famous examples of a product with a defective design was the 1970s Ford Pinto. The Pinto had a defectively-designed gas tank that greatly increased the risk of a fire in a rear-end collision. A more recent example would be the Toyota models with a gas pedal design that caused sudden, unintended acceleration.
Other examples of design defects include: drop-side cribs; hip implant devices that cause metal debris to be released into the patient’s bloodstream; and cigarette lighters without a child safety lock.
Some products have a safe design but become dangerous during the manufacturing process. This can occur because of a choice by the manufacturer to deviate from design protocols by using cheaper materials or sometimes by an error on the manufacturing line. The consumer can be injured when a defectively-manufactured product malfunctions. (Note: it can be very difficult to determine whether a dangerous product is defective in its design or in its manufacturing, particularly when the designer and manufacturer are the same entity. For this reason, a product liability claim often asserts both theories of liability.)
Examples of manufacturing defects include: seatbelts with faulty latch or clasp; a firearm with a malfunctioning safety; or a kitchen blender with a missing retaining ring.
Failure to Warn
Products with inadequate warnings are also referred to as having defective marketing. When a product has been designed and manufactured to be as safe as possible, but still poses some risks to the consumer, the consumer must be given adequate warning. A manufacturer does not have to warn of dangers that are or should be obvious to the consumer, but it must warn of dangers that exist when the consumer is using the product in a way that is reasonably foreseeable.
Examples of inadequate warnings include: medications that don’t contain instructions about potential side-effects or dangerous combinations with other medications (also called contra-indications); drinks that are served at extremely hot temperatures without a warning (such as in the famous McDonald’s case); and topical ointments that do not warn against internal use.
A successful plaintiff in a product liability case can recover actual damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, as well as compensatory damages for pain and suffering. In some cases, exemplary damages (commonly known as punitive damages) can be recovered if the manufacturer’s conduct is so bad that it should be punished.
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