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What Are the Legal Steps to Take After Suffering an Injury from a Defective Product?

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According to Forbes magazine, 6,000 Americans were injured and 23 died from defective products in 2021. If you have an injury you believe or think may have been caused by a faulty product, Texas law may offer options to recover for your injuries and lost wages. However, it is crucial to speak to Texas product liability attorneys about any claim you may have. They are familiar with the possibilities and roadblocks in the law, and they can help you defend your rights.

Preserving Your Evidence

After an injury involving a product, you will need to gather evidence and information, just as you would after a car accident.

Take photos of the injury, the accident site and damaged property (if any), and the product as it appears immediately afterward.

Get a medical exam as soon as possible. Even if you do not think you were seriously hurt, some accidents—especially falls and blows to the head—can produce serious or even deadly effects with delayed onsets. In any case, it is vital for a medical professional to document your physical condition.

Keep the product or its remains as safely as possible. Be sure to retain any receipts, invoices, or other documentation about the product’s purchase, as well as any packaging or included leaflets. Any documents or communications you received from the seller may also be of interest to an attorney.

Product Liability in Texas

A product liability attorney will want to speak to you about the circumstances of the injury and the product’s use. Once they understand why and how the product caused the injury, they can determine what legal grounds you have for a claim, if any.

A claimant can sue the manufacturer and—under some circumstances—the seller of the product. In Texas, a seller can only be liable if they got involved with the product in specific ways, including installation, modification, or a harmful misrepresentation about its use. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 82.003.

Plaintiffs sue for product-related injuries on one or more of these grounds:

  • Negligence—the defendant was negligent in their duty of care while manufacturing or selling the product, and that negligence caused injury.
  • Strict liability—under Texas state law, the defendant is responsible for the product’s failure even if they were not negligent.
  • Breach of express or implied warranty—the defendant asserted the product was fit for a certain use, and it was not.
  • Misrepresentation.

In product liability cases, claimants allege that the products failed in one of three ways.

  • Manufacturing defects—the products failed because they were poorly fabricated
  • Design defects—the products failed due to a design that could not have worked as it was supposed to
  • Packaging defects—the products did not carry a warning for users about the risks of foreseeable use

Texas law offers manufacturers defenses to these claims. If a consumer product was «inherently unsafe» in some way—such as alcohol, tobacco, or oysters—consumers cannot sue for foreseeable mishaps from its use unless they allege some kind of manufacturing defect or breach of warranty. See § 82.004. Moreover, a claimant cannot sue for a design defect unless they can show that the manufacturer could feasibly have used a safer alternative design that would have prevented their injury. (This does not apply to drugs or medical devices.) See § 82.005.

A claimant has up to 15 years after the date of sale to bring a product liability case, unless the product’s warranty provided a longer period. See § 16.012. If a claimant only became sick from the product’s use after the 15 years passed, they may also be able to sue. However, speaking to an attorney as soon as possible is essential.

The Recovery Process

Someone who has suffered a product-related injury may be entitled to recover:

  • Medical expenses
  • Property losses
  • Lost wages or income
  • Expenses due to short- or long-term disability

Despite jokes about plaintiffs’ lawyers, no one really wants to go to trial. Most claimants prefer to settle with the parties that caused their injuries so that they can receive the resources they need. After reviewing the evidence and the law, a personal injury attorney will notify the responsible parties of their claim and the possibility of a lawsuit. Once a manufacturer or seller recognizes their liability, they may decide to settle quickly as well. Unfortunately, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit. That pressure itself may lead companies to settle before trial.

After a widely marketed product fails, there may be many claimants statewide or nationwide. When this happens, the multi-district litigation (MDL) process can be used to consolidate court proceedings. Individual lawsuits join together in an MDL to expedite the fact-finding process, share deadlines, and—hopefully—participate in a settlement that will make it unnecessary to go to court. Class action lawsuits involve a class of plaintiffs—which may be anyone who bought a product—but unlike an MDL, there is only one lawsuit in a class action.

Moving Forward with Your Claim

The Crash Angels at the Pelaez Law Firm offer strong, compassionate representation for injured parties. If you believe you may have been injured by a defective product, drug, or medical device in Texas, contact us today at 210-801-9314 to schedule your free consultation in San Antonio.

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