Texas products liability: What are the 3 types of product defects?

In Texas, a product may be considered defective if it has an unsafe design, diverges from its intended design or lacks proper instructions and warnings.

Most people in San Antonio assume that the products they use every day have been designed thoughtfully, tested thoroughly and labeled carefully to ensure their safety. Sadly, though, it is not uncommon for people to suffer needless injuries while using dangerous and defective products. These victims may be able to seek recourse from the responsible parties, but they must first show that a product suffered from at least one of three recognized types of defects.

Design defects

A product has design defects if its design exposes users to an unnecessary risk of injury or death. Under Texas law, products that have inherent and obvious risks due to their nature, such as power tools, are not necessarily defective. However, a design may be considered defective if a manufacturer chose not to use a safer alternative design that could have lowered the risk of injury or death to users.

Marketing defects

A product may also be considered defective if it does not contain adequate warning labels or instructions for use. For example, a product may have marketing defects in the following cases:

  • The user was not advised of risks of the product that would not be obvious or predictable to a reasonable person.
  • The user was not given instructions for utilizing the product in a safe manner.
  • The labeling or instructions factually misrepresented the product in a way that contributed to the user's injury.

If the labeling or design of a product complies with federal regulations, there is a presumption that the manufacturer is not liable for any injuries allegedly resulting from marketing or design defects. Victims may challenge this presumption, however, by showing that the regulations were inadequate or that the manufacturer withheld information about the product that may have affected its approval or regulation.

Deviations from design

Products with safe designs and adequate labeling may still be defective if a manufacturer makes errors during the production process. Similarly, if a seller modifies a product substantially in a way that renders it unsafe, the seller may be liable for any resulting injuries. Unfortunately, defects that fall into this category may be more difficult to document, since they are often random and may not appear in every product in a line.

Seeking recourse

Under Texas law, people who have been injured by dangerous products only have limited time to gather evidence of any of these defects. The statute of limitations for products liability claims is 15 years from the date that the product was sold, unless the manufacturer or seller guarantees the product will be safely usable for a longer period. The only exceptions are for cases when victims did not encounter the product within this limitation and cases when victims developed diseases that did not manifest symptoms within this period.

For assistance proving that a product was defective, victims should consult with an attorney who possesses experience in products liability cases. An attorney may be able to help a person gather evidence and put together a compelling claim against the parties responsible for the product's defects.