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Think about all the products you use on a day-to-day basis. What happens when these products—or any of the countless parts inside them—suddenly don’t work like they should? What if they cause you to be injured? Should you call a personal injury law firm?

That’s the basis of product liability law, which aims to protect consumers against defective products. Here, we’ll see how product liability relates to personal injury claims, the three types of product defects, and what you can do if you’ve been affected by an unsafe product.


Personal Injury Claims and Defective Products

There are many types of ways a personal injury can occur. Workplace injuries, car and trucking accidents, and accidents in public spaces are all too common.

Most of the time, the fault can be traced to someone at the scene of the accident. When it involves a defective consumer product, however, the fault will instead lie with the manufacturer of the product (and possibly others in the supply chain). It’s still considered a personal injury claim, but you’ll typically be seeking compensation from a corporation and will have to consider the nature of the product’s defect.

Types of Product Liability

Products can be defective, and cause injury, in three distinct ways:


Manufacturing Defects

Substandard manufacturing processes or a fault in production can lead to a defective product. This could be due to worn factory machinery, human error, or even the conditions under which the product is built.

A simple example would be a washer for a faucet. If the mold which creates the ring shape is misaligned or the rubber isn’t heated and cooled correctly, then the washer is likely to end up structurally weak and likely to fail.


Design Defects

A design defect is when the error is not in the manufacturing of the item but in the initial design itself. It means that even if it’s manufactured properly, the product still injures you, either because the design was never fit for its intended purpose or it had intentional design elements that were inherently dangerous.


Warning Defects

Otherwise known as a marketing defect, these refer to a failure to warn product users of any potential dangers. Some consumer products, regardless of how well they’re designed and built, have dangers associated with them. If those dangers aren’t immediately obvious to the user, then they need to be specifically warned against via labeling and instructions.

One example of this would be plastic wrapping used in packaging. Despite the design and manufacturing of the packaging being perfectly fine, they are still legally obliged to warn users of the non-obvious risk of suffocation.


Product Liability Lawsuits

As product liability claims arise through personal injury claims, most of the time the same requirements will need to be met for successful compensation. That is:

  • You are owed a duty of care (in this instance, it means you could reasonably expect the product to not harm you)
  • Someone breaches that duty of care through negligence (in this instance, the manufacturer of the product causing the defect)
  • The breach was a cause of an injury (you were harmed by the defect)
  • You suffered damage as a result of the injury, including financial, physical, and emotional

If these four conditions are met, then it’s very likely that you have grounds for a claim.

close-up of radiator cap

It’s also important to note that many product defect claims follow the principles of “strict liability,” which means that the defendant is guilty of breaching their duty of care even if it was unintentional or they tried their best not to—for example, if a product had a defective design that caused injury, even though they tried to make their product as safe as possible.

Despite all the information out there, it’s sometimes hard to know what to do next when you’ve been injured by a product defect. If you’ve suffered and deserve compensation, the first thing to do is contact us. With decades of experience, we’re the most trusted product liability lawyers in Houston. Call the team at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. today at (713) 364-0723 for a free and confidential assessment of your case.

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Jonathan S. Harris and Matthew D. Shaffer are Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  Other attorneys are not board certified.  Principal office is located in Houston, Texas.