Products liability law is based on the responsibility of a manufacturer or other provider of goods to compensate users of the goods for injuries caused by defective or dangerous products. The basic idea underlying products liability law is that the companies providing the products are usually in the best position to prevent defective products from entering the marketplace, so if they fail to do so, they should be held accountable. The law in this area has evolved from the days of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) to, in some instances, strict liability, in which manufacturers are responsible for injuries caused by their defective or unreasonably dangerous products even if they were not negligent.
In a San Antonio Texas products liability action, the injured person, or plaintiff, must prove that there was a design or manufacturing defect in the product, or that the manufacturer did not adequately warn consumers about the product’s possible dangers; that the product caused the injuries; and that he or she was using the product in the way it was intended to be used, or that the manufacturer should have anticipated that the product would be misused in the way that it was.
Manufacturing defects are usually easier to prove than design defects. If a car cannot go over ten miles per hour, for example, it is pretty clear that it was not manufactured as the designer intended it to be. A design-defect case, on the other hand, could arise if, for instance, many or all cars of a manufacturer’s particular model lurch forward when the accelerator is not depressed. In other words, in a design-defect case, the product may have been manufactured as it was intended to be, but the design was inadequately planned in such a way as to pose unreasonable hazards to consumers. Proving a design defect involves passing judgment on technical choices and usually requires expert testimony.
Proving causation in a products liability case can be complicated. The plaintiff must establish that the product was defective when it left the hands of the defendant and that the defect was the cause of the motor vehicle accident that led to the injuries. If the injuries could have arisen from several potential causes-for example, driver error or negligent highway design as well as a product defect-the plaintiff usually must establish that the product defect had a substantial role in bringing about the injuries.
Possible legal theories that can be argued in a products liability case include negligence (lack of reasonable care in the manufacture or sale of the product or in warning about the product), breach of warranty (failure to fulfill the terms of a promise regarding the product), misrepresentation (giving consumers a false sense of security about a product’s safety), and strict tort liability (the product’s defect, although not the fault of the defendant, rendered the product unreasonably dangerous and the defendant is therefore responsible).
Damages recoverable in a products liability lawsuit include those for personal injuries as well as property damage. In a personal injury case, the plaintiff’s damages may include medical expenses, lost wages, damages for physical and mental pain and suffering, and sometimes even punitive damages, which go beyond compensating the plaintiff for his or her actual losses and are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter future similar bad conduct. Property damage may also result from a defective auto part, such as when someone’s breaks fail and their car crashes into your house and comes to a halt in your living room. In such cases, you may be able to seek damages that would pay for all the necessary repairs to your home and property.