How “Strict Liability” Affects Product Liability Cases in Texas
Most of the time, to prove someone is responsible for your injuries, you must show they were “negligent.” That means showing they were careless, ignored dangers, or otherwise failed to keep you safe. Luckily, in Texas, some cases allow injured victims to use a “strict liability” theory, instead of negligence.
This lets a court hold manufacturers liable for dangerous defects, even without proving negligence. Proving these cases is far simpler, and greatly helps an injured plaintiff win a defective product injury case. If you or a family member was injured by a defective product, talk to the Dallas products liability attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm.
What is “Strict Liability”?
Usually, when you sue another party for your injuries, it is based on one of two theories: intentional action, or negligence. Cases based on intentional action, called “torts,” cover things like assault and battery, where one person intended to cause you harm. Negligence is much broader, and is the legal theory behind many different types of cases. Car accident cases, defective product cases, slip and falls, and most other personal injury cases are based on a theory of negligence.
To prove negligence, you must prove that the person who harmed you breached some duty that they owed you, and that the breach caused your injuries. This means showing that the party was careless in some way, or that they didn’t rise to society’s expectations. For instance, a driver who causes an accident by texting while driving is likely negligent. The same is true for a store owner who leaves a big spill in the middle of an aisle. When people are injured by others’ carelessness, they can usually recover in court – if they can prove the carelessness.
When it comes to product design and safety standards, proving negligence is difficult. The manufacturing process is difficult for people to understand, and requires expert testimony to explain. Establishing the proper level of care also requires experts inside the industry. Ultimately, if the industry sets a low bar, then it is very difficult for injured victims to show the manufacturer was negligent.
To avoid all this, many courts around the country, Texas included, have allowed a “strict liability” theory in products liability cases. Instead of proving negligence, an injured party needs to prove that the product was defective and dangerous. It does not matter if the manufacturer was careless, or if they used the utmost care in manufacturing the product – the rule is quite strict.
Texas Defective Product Cases with “Strict Liability”
A Texas defective product lawsuit based on strict liability is not an automatic win for the injured party. There are still elements to the case, and the evidence must meet a certain standard. For a civil case, like an injury case, the injured party must produce enough evidence to show that their claims are true, more likely than not. This is called a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, and is lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in criminal cases.
The elements that an injured party must prove for a products liability case based on strict liability are:
- The product was defective.
- The product was not changed between leaving the manufacturer and getting to the injured party.
- The defect made the product dangerous.
- The defect caused the injury.
The last three elements focus on proving that the product was what caused the injury. If someone else changed the product to make it defective, then it wasn’t the manufacturer’s fault. Similarly, if the defect wasn’t what caused the injury, or the defect wasn’t actually dangerous, then there is no reason to hold the manufacturer accountable.
Proving these elements is usually easier (and cheaper) than proving negligence. Unlike a negligence case, there is less need for experts and in-depth analysis of the manufacturing process. Instead, you merely prove that the manufacturer did something wrong, and that that caused your injury.
There are two things that are not covered by strict liability in products liability cases: lawsuits for damage to the product itself, and lawsuits where there was only financial damage. Texas courts have decided that these two types of cases cannot take advantage of the strict liability rules, and must be proved by showing negligence. If you or a loved one suffered physical injury, this is not a problem, and strict liability should be available to you.
Defective Product Injury Lawyers in Texas
If you or a loved one has been injured by a dangerous or defective product, talk to an attorney about your case. The experienced product liability attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm may be able to help you get compensation for your defective product injuries. Call (817) 476-1797 today for a free consultation with an Arlington TX personal injury lawyer.