In Texas, products liability cases involve one or more of the following: (1) design defects; (2) manufacturing defects; and/or (3) marketing defects.
1. Design Defect Cases
A “design defect” is a condition of the product that renders it unreasonably dangerous as designed, taking into consideration the utility of the product and the risk involved in its use. For a design defect to exist there must have been a safer alternative design. “Safer alternative design” means a product design other than the one actually used that in reasonable probability –
- would have prevented or significantly reduced the risk of the occurrence or injury in question without substantially impairing the product’s utility; and
- was economically and technologically feasible at the time the product left the control of the defendant by the application of existing or reasonably achievable scientific knowledge.
Design defects may involve tires, automobiles, manufacturing equipment, farm implement or even home electrical devices. Valuable information concerning the product manufacturer can often be obtained from patent records, federal agencies, and documents pertaining to similar events involving the same or similar product.
2. Manufacturing Defect Cases
A “manufacturing defect” is a claim that relates to a product that was defective as a consequence of some error during its manufacture. A “defect” means a condition of the product that renders it unreasonably dangerous. Manufacturing defects typically refer to products that were not manufactured as intended. For example, if during manufacturing a crack forms in the housing of the electrical device and the device later causes a fire, that crack would be categorized as a manufacturing defect. Specifically, manufacturing defects refer to defects in products that arise as a consequence of the manufacturing process, not the design of the product.
3. Marketing Defect Cases
A “marketing defect” with respect to the product means the failure to give adequate warnings of the product’s dangers that were known or by the application of reasonably developed human skill and foresight should have been known, or failure to give adequate instructions to avoid such dangers, which failure rendered the product unreasonably dangerous as marketed. “Adequate” warnings and instructions mean warnings and instructions given in an form that could reasonably be expected to catch the attention of a reasonably prudent person in the circumstances of the product’s use; and the content of the warnings and instructions must be comprehensible to the average user and must convey a fair indication of the nature and extent of the danger and how to avoid it to the mind of a reasonable prudent person. An “unreasonably dangerous” product is one that is dangerous to an extent beyond that which would be contemplated b the ordinary user of the product with the ordinary knowledge common to the community as to the product’s characteristics. With regard to marketing defects, the above definitions may seem lengthy, but these are the very definitions that are given to jurors during their deliberations. It is vital that the evidence used to support products liability cases conform to the definitions of the particular product defect (design, manufacturing, and/or marketing). An example of a marketing defect would be a manufacturer’s failure to provide adequate warnings and/or instructions concerning the use of a particular product. Tire manufacturers include warnings and instructions pertaining to tire inflation. The failure on the part of a tire manufacturer to provide instructions and/or warnings with regard to tire inflation pressure may give rise to a marketing defect claim. In other words, consumers need adequate information and warnings so that consumers can use products in a safe manner.
Jurisdiction and Venue
In Texas, the State District Courts have jurisdiction over products liability claims. The venue of a particular claim refers to the county in which the lawsuit can be filed. Generally speaking, a products liability case can be filed in the county where the incident occurred, in the county where the defendant resided or had its principle place of business at the time of the incident or in the county where a deceased person’s estate is pending in Probate Court.
In injury cases that arise as a consequence of products liability, the injured party has standing to bring a claim against the manufacturer. Additionally, the injured party’s spouse may also bring a claim for loss of consortium and household services. In certain instances involving catastrophic injury, the injured party’s children may have standing to bring a claim for loss of parental consortium. In death cases, the victim’s parents, spouse, and children all have standing to bring a claim under the Texas wrongful death statutes. In addition, a survival act claim may be brought on behalf of the victim’s estate to recover damages suffered by the victim from the time of injury until the time of death. These damages include hospital bills, damages for pain and suffering, and funeral bills.
A. Injury Cases
In Texas, injured individuals have standing to recover the following elements of damages:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost wages;
- Mental anguish;
- Pain and suffering;
- Disfigurement; and
- Physical impairment.
The damages listed above may be recovered for both the past and future. The spouse of an individual that is injured may have standing to recover damages for loss of consortium and household services. In certain instances involving catastrophic injury, the individual’s children may have standing to bring a claim for loss of parental consortium.
B. Death Cases
In death cases involving products liability, the family members with standing to bring a claim can recover the following elements of damages:
- Conscious pain, suffering, bereavement, torment, extreme physical pain and mental anguish from the moment of injury until the moment of death, and for loss of the enjoyment of life;
- Pain and mental anguish, or the conscious physical pain and emotional pain, torment and suffering experienced by Decedent before her death as a result of the occurrence in question;
- Medical expenses, or the reasonable expense of the necessary medical and hospital care received by Decedent for treatment of injuries sustained by her as a result of the occurrence in question; and
- Funeral and burial expenses, or the reasonable amount of expenses for funeral and burial for Decedent reasonably suitable to her station in life.
In addition, Survival Act damages may be recovered which include the following elements:
- Pecuniary loss, or that loss of care, maintenance, support, services, advice, counsel, and reasonable contributions of a pecuniary value that Plaintiffs in reasonable probability would have received from the Decedent had she lived;
- Loss of companionship and society, or that loss of the positive benefits flowing from the love, comfort, companionship, and the society that Plaintiffs, in reasonable probability would have received from the Decedent had she lived;
- Mental anguish, or the emotional pain, torment, and suffering experienced by Plaintiffs because of the death of the Decedent; and
- Loss of inheritance, or the loss of the present value of the assets that the Decedent, in all reasonable probability would have added to the estate and left in natural death to Plaintiffs.
The information contained on this website is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. The Klein Law Firm maintains its principal office in Houston, Texas and handles cases across Texas. The availability of this website in jurisdictions in which The Klein Law Firm or any of its attorneys are not licensed should not be deemed or construed as advertising of its services in those jurisdictions.
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