Products Liability Lawyer in Texas: Understanding Manufacturing Defects

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Many of us use lots of different kinds of mass-produced products on an everyday basis in Texas. Though we don't often stop to think about it, all of these products at one point underwent a comprehensive design and manufacturing process. However, the manufacturing process does not always go according to plan, and the product is rendered defective, but it can still make its way out into the market. When out in the marketplace, it may have the potential to injure someone as a result of the defect. 

What Constitutes a Manufacturing Defect in Texas?

A manufacturing defect is one of three types of product defects and applies to any defect in a product due to an error in the manufacturing process. As opposed to design defects, which refers to a defective product design, manufacturing defects result when there is a deviation from the intended design. For example, you could have a batch of products manufactured properly and in accordance with the design and then another batch manufactured with a defect because the design was not followed. 

There are two common causes of a manufacturing defect:

  1. Raw materials, when raw materials used to make something is of poor quality, the final product will also be of poor quality; and
  2. Human error or negligence, when a person puts the product together carelessly or is unskilled or inexperienced, the final product may be defective.

Manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers of consumer products have a legal obligation to report manufacturing defects to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) when:

  • A defective product that could create a substantial risk of injury to consumers;
  • A product that creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death;
  • A product that fails to comply with an applicable consumer product safety rule or with any other rule, regulation, standard, or ban under the CPSA or any other statute enforced by the CPSC;
  • An incident in which a child (regardless of age) chokes on a marble, small ball, latex balloon, or other small part contained in a toy or game and that, as a result of the incident, the child dies, suffers serious injury, ceases breathing for any length of time, or is treated by a medical professional; and
  • Certain types of lawsuits. (This applies to manufacturers and importers only and is subject to the time periods detailed in Sec. 37 of the CPSA.)

The CPSC requires that the manufacturer reports the defect within 24 hours upon knowing about it. Manufacturers face criminal penalties as well as civil lawsuits. 

Common Examples of Manufacturing Defects in Texas

Any number of possibilities exist that could result in a manufacturing defect. Some common examples include:

  • Parts attached incorrectly
  • Electrical circuits installed improperly
  • Plastic or material manufactured improperly
  • Wrong bolts and fasteners used

Can I Sue a Manufacturer for a Faulty Product?

You can sue a manufacturer for a faulty product that causes an injury. There are two theories under which to sue: negligence and strict liability. Under negligence, you must prove that the manufacturer owed you a duty of care, the duty was breached, the breach caused an injury, and you suffered monetary damages due to the injury. Under strict liability, you do not have to prove fault as you must do under a negligence theory. 

How Do You Prove a Manufacturing Defect in Texas?

In short, in order to prove a manufacturing defect and recover compensation for injuries, a plaintiff must be able to show that the manufacturing defect was the actual and proximate cause of their injuries. This involves first proving that there was a manufacturing defect. The product may have been recalled, and if so, that can serve as proof of a manufacturing defect (so long as the product you have is within the specific batch recalled). 

For most consumer products, you can look up manufacturing defects using CPSC's search form. If the product is related to food or medicine, you can look it up using the U.S. Food & Drug Administration's (FDA) search form. Oftentimes, you can receive a refund or a replacement.

If you are filing a lawsuit to recover compensation for injuries, then you must prove that the product has a manufacturing defect and but for and because of the manufacturing defect, you suffered the injury. 

To prove the manufacturing defect, you can use information obtained from CPSC or the FDA. If there has not yet been a recall, then you will have to prove the manufacturing defect on your own. Some examples of potentially helpful evidence might be photos or videos of the product or police reports detailing how the accident happened. Your case may also require expert testimony from someone who is knowledgeable in the technical aspects of a product's manufacturing.

Next, to show that the defect was the cause of your injuries, you must prove more likely than not that the defective product is at fault. Again, in some cases, this might be relatively easy to prove. However, in others, it might not be so clear, and you will need: 

  • Medical records
  • Photographs
  • Video
  • Expert testimony
  • Layperson testimony 
  • Eyewitness accounts
  • And more

What Defenses Are There to Manufacturing Defect Claims?

When it comes to defending products liability cases based on manufacturing defects, producers generally have two options: (1) the modification defense; or (2) the assumption of the risk defense. 

Substantial Modification Defense

The modification defense says that a manufacturer is not liable for changes made to their product after it left their control. For example, if a plaintiff disassembled an engine and put it back together incorrectly, the engine manufacturer will likely not be liable for any accidents occurring after the modification. 

Assumption of Risk Defense

The assumption of the risk defense says that a manufacturer is not liable when a product user knew of a product's defect and used it anyway. For example, if a car owner put a tire on their car after seeing a large tear in it, they likely won't be able to argue that they should receive compensation for an accident. 

Why Should I Hire a Manufacturing Defect Attorney in San Antonio?

A manufacturing defect attorney will be able to analyze your case and give an opinion on whether or not you have a compensable claim. If you have a claim, your attorney can outline how to best go about pursuing it. An experienced lawyer will have the resources and network to get started on your case rather quickly. This may include what experts to contact first and how to follow up accordingly to new leads or information.

Manufacturing defect cases can be highly technical and involve complicated legal defenses so hiring the right attorney is critical.

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