Houston Defective Products Attorney
Call an Experienced Product Liability Lawyer in Houston, TX
Dangerous and Defective Products That Cause Injury And Death. When a manufacturer makes a product, it has the obligation to make it safe. The law says that the manufacturer will be liable when its product is unreasonably dangerous and hurts or kills someone as a result. The manufacturer is liable even if it was very careful in designing and making the product. The fact that it sells a product in the market place imposes a duty on it to pay for hurting or killing someone, regardless of how careful it was in making and selling the product. This law is very good for the hurt individual or the family of someone who is killed, and is different than the law of negligence.
Experienced Houston Products Liability Attorney
The Stephens Law Firm has handled many types of products liability cases, ranging from breathing monitors for children, defective tires, GM cars, Ford trucks, helicopters, chairs, concrete trucks, pharmaceutical drugs, medical apnea monitors for newborn infants, oil field blowout preventer equipment, refinery equipment which failed causing an explosion, conveyor belt systems, and so on. The Stephens Law Firm will hire the world’s best engineers to analyze the accident, and the particular product involved to determine if the case has merit.
What Are Some Common Types of Defective Product Liability Lawsuits?
Helping Victims of Defective Products Get the Compensation They Deserve
The Difference Between Product Liability Law & Personal Injury Law
While the law of negligence says that a person or company is only responsible if it didn’t use ordinary care under the circumstances, such as when a driver hurts someone for not keeping a proper lookout under the circumstances. Thus, a driver of a car is never held legally responsible unless he failed to use ordinary care at the time of the injuries. The law of product liability is different because we expect and have the right to rely upon manufacturers to make safe products. So, the law of product liability encourages manufacturers to make safe products.
That is why “strict liability” or liability without fault applies to a manufacturer. Simply, they owe money to compensate persons anytime someone is harmed by one of their defective and unreasonably dangerous products. The law applies to any product that is sold or leased into the market place. The manufacturer can be held responsible even if the product was given or passed onto you by a friend.
Product Defects Liability
There are three types of “defects” that the law of products liability applies to. Products can be defectively designed, defectively manufactured, or defectively marketed. (inadequate warnings and instructions). Each type of defect can seriously hurt or kill someone.
Defective Design Liability
A responsible manufacturer is supposed to identify the risks associated with the use of its product, including predictable ways to misuse it. The manufacturer must first design out all hazards associated with its use if it is economically feasible and practical to do so. If it does not design out these hazards, the product is defectively designed. Many times, manufacturers simply do not do a good job of identifying the risks associated with its product, or worse, choose to avoid simple guards that would eliminate or reduce the risk of harm while using their product. That is, they choose corporate profit over the safety of those who use the product. For example, an automobiles defectively designed air bag may kill someone; a tire manufacturer may design a tire that blows out when it should not do so; and oil field equipment manufacturer may build a piece of equipment that cannot handle expected and foreseeable pressure at the well site. If the product’s defect leads to an injury or death, the manufacturer is responsible to pay money to those affected. The damages include lost income, medical expenses, pain, emotional torment, the spouse’s suffering, nursing services, and loss of household services. In a death case, the manufacturer must pay for the loss of companionship, and the mental anguish of close family members.
Defective Manufacturing Liability
A manufacturer can be held liable when they don’t make the product in accordance with the design plans. That’s is the design plans are safe, but they simply don’t make it right. This is often due to faulty manufacturing procedures or poor quality control. i.e. they don’t do proper testing. Many times, the manufacturer only randomly tests a product, and therefore expects to have some products that are not made in accordance with the specifications. Other times, the manufacturer cuts corners to save a few dollars and this is the reason for the defectively manufactured product.
For example, a few years ago, many hip replacement patients suffered all manner of complications following hip surgery. The investigation showed that the hip replacement product manufacturer chose to send their product onto the market, knowing it was not adequately cleaned. The hospitals were lead to believe the replacement product was sterile, and ready for implantation. Of course, patients got needlessly infected due to the defective and contaminated hip replacement products which caused great agony, suffering, and the need for many future surgeries.
Defective Marketing Liabiity
The cardinal rules of engineering, (also called the “engineering order of precedence”) says that a product engineer should identify all risks associated with a product, design out or guard against the hazard if feasible and possible. Only if the engineer cannot design out the hazard may it delegate responsibility to the user of the product. The safety rule is a good one. This is because people are going to make mistakes, and are going to use products in a manner that will cause injuries if that is possible. Therefore, the manufacturer is allowed to make products that may foreseeably injure people if it warns about or instructs the user how to use the product safely. The law says that it is presumed that an adequate warning or instruction will have been heeded and obeyed.
To be adequate, a warning or instruction must be conspicuous, and easily understood. It must warn about the hazard associated with the use of the product, and how to avoid it. Unless it does all of these things, the warning or instruction is insufficient. The product is therefore defective and unreasonably dangerous.
For example, I tried a case against the manufacturer of a concrete truck whose rolling drum severely mangled the persons hand who was cleaning the truck. His hand got caught between the drum and the truck in a pinch point. I persuaded a jury that the truck was defectively designed for creating the pinch point. If the gap was 2 inches wider, this known and unavoidable risk would not have existed. Further, I argued that the concrete truck manufacturer should have warned the user that it was dangerous to wash the truck due to the hazardous pinch point that was not readily visible to the driver. The jury found against the manufacturer and told me after verdict that they did not believe that a driver who had on gloves would know that the glove could get caught in the pinch point. Thus, they ruled that the truck was defective in finding for the injured Plaintiff.
Thus, a product can be defective in more than one respect.
How a Lawyer Represents Injured Persons in Products Liability Claims
Multiple examples of dangerous products abound. It seems like I have handled more than my share, having handled hundreds of product liability claims. As mentioned, I have tried cases ranging from oilfield explosions to defective products made for children. How can a Houston personal injury lawyer gain the experience and know how to successfully represent an injured person against different manufacturers of different products? The answer is hard work.
What I do is to thoroughly investigate the incident. I hire accident investigators and reconstructionists to tell me how the incident happened. Then, I hire the best product, safety, and mechanical engineers I can find who have experience in the industry to tell me how the product could have been designed better and safer. If I do not already know the expert, I find these experts from researching the literature, from technical journals, and from other experts that I know. I always find an experienced in the country who knows how to communicate well.
Then, I issue subpoenas and take depositions from the manufacturer to learn what their files show they learned at the design table, and what risks they considered when they made the product. I learn if why they believe they had the right to cut corners during the design process by not making a safer product, and why they did not spend more money and time to make a safer product. Then, I take that information to my engineers and ask them if they could have done it better and safer.
If the case is a good one, I get it ready to try, and ask the manufacturer if they want to pay fair compensation. An injured person has a right to recover their past and future economic losses such as medical bills, income, and nursing services. They also can recover for emotional torment, suffering, and impairment. If a person has died, their families have a right to recover for financial losses, as well as the suffering and anguish they experience.
If a manufacturer or product seller does not want to pay a fair amount to compensate my clients, then I am ready to go to court to prove my case for my client. It is that simple.
How to File a Product Liability Lawsuit
When choosing an attorney to represent you in a product liability case, you want to ensure that they not only have experience winning such cases, but that they are dedicated and committed to your case. Attorney Joe Stephens accepts most cases on a contingency basis meaning you pay nothing upfront for his representation and instead pay him out of your settlement. With such a large investment on the firm's part, Mr. Stephens can only accept cases which he feels have strong merits.