Personal Injury Blog : Product Liability: What It Really Means
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Product Liability: What It Really Means
“Product Liability” is the term that lawyers use when we evaluate products and their components for potential responsibility for the injury or death of our clients. This evaluation starts with the original manufacturer of the product but it may extend to the suppliers of the components that are a part of the products that the public uses daily. Most products are distributed to the public through a distribution chain. Each member of the chain may have some responsibility for that product if that product fails and causes injury or death. In any case where the performance of the product is questioned, it is important to determine who was involved in every stage of the product’s manufacture, marketing and sale so that the client may advised about their legal rights.
Strict Liability is the foundation for today’s strict product liability law in Texas and beyond. The Law provides: “One who sells any product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer or to his property is subject to liability for physical harm thereby caused.” These claims examine the condition of the product rather than the conduct of the manufacturer or retailer. Potential defects may be found in the design, manufacture, marketing/warnings of the product.
Negligence is defined as a failure of a manufacturer or a retailer to act in conformity with the standard of the manufacturers and retailer in that industry under the same circumstances. Negligence can be found where a defendant acts or fails to act under circumstances where other defendants would have acted. We look at the design, manufacture and marketing/warnings for the product but the focus is the actions or inactions of the manufacturer or retailer. Many negligence-based product liability cases are due to a lack of action when the industry becomes aware of a problem but chooses not to act in the best interest of the customers who buy and use the product.
Breach of Warranty
Personal injury liability claims which result from a breach of warranty fall under a contract action. For instance, many products have express written (and sometimes unwritten) warranties that exist from the time for the sale for a period of time. These warranties set out certain characteristics which the product is supposed to have or is expected to have. When those characteristics are not found and the consumer is injured, there may be a claim for a breach of warrant.
There is also implied warranty, in which case a product comes with the implication that as long as it is used as it was designed to be used, the consumer will avoid injury. Despite the lack of a written warranty, this is still a legitimate cause for legal action if an injury occurs.
Misrepresentation is a “tort” action, or a strict liability claim. Whether purposeful or accidental, misrepresentation is a viable cause for a personal injury suit if the manufacturer or retailer misrepresented the characteristics and qualities of a product and the consumer is injured as a direct result of product not having those attributes.
For instance, if a company produces a product created with toxic materials that are undisclosed, that company would be liable if anyone became ill due to exposure to those materials. Misrepresentation can occur through known ignorance or blatant disregard for the truth.
Proving the specific details which lead to a product related injury often requires the aid of an established products liability lawyer with Ketterman Rowland & Westlund maintain an experienced and professional staff of legal experts