3 Common Misconceptions About Product Liability Cases
Defective Products Are a Growing Problem in the United States
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 37 million people sustain consumer product-related injuries each year, and about 35,000 of those individuals die because of their injuries.
While not all of these injuries and fatalities are directly caused by product defects, it’s fair to assume that many of them are. Based on the number of product liability claims filed each year, tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of people at any given time believe they have a case showing that they were injured or lost a loved one due to a harmful product defect — and you may be one of them.
Below, we will discuss some of the misconceptions about product liability claims and how to tell if you have a product liability case. At Hossley & Embry, we also offer free consultations so you can get candid legal advice about your situation at no risk to you. Call our offices at (866) 522-9265 or fill out a simple online form to request your free case evaluation if you think you may have a product liability case.
Defective Product Myths: Don’t Believe Everything You Hear
Normally, unboxing a new appliance, tool, or toy is a fun experience and getting injured is the last thing on most people’s minds. For this reason and many others, most people aren’t aware of their rights after being injured by a defective product.
Listed below are three common misconceptions about defective product cases.
#1: Void or Expired Warranties Mean You Don’t Have a Case
Just because a product’s warranty is expired or even voided, that does not mean you cannot sue for injuries that result from using that product.
Some warranties — known as express warranties — explicitly outline what consumers can expect from a given product. If an appliance says it will work in a certain way and/or be free from defects and you suffer injuries because the product didn’t live up to those promises, it can certainly serve as a foundation of your case. But even if there is not an explicit warranty that has been broken or the express warranty is void or expired, you may still be eligible for compensation if you have been injured by a product.
Part of the reason for this is that another type of warranty exists known as an “implied warranty.” Each state — including Texas — has legal language describing what consumers can generally expect from the makers and sellers of products. In Texas, for example, the implied warranty states that there is an unstated and reasonable expectation on the part of buyers that any product they purchase will not be defective and will be fit for the ordinary purposes for which it is used.
So, even if something does not come with a detailed written warranty, every person has the reasonable right to expect that the products they purchase are free from dangerous defects.
#2: Product Liability Only Covers Intended and Foreseeable Uses of a Product
Many people believe they aren’t eligible to receive compensation for product-related injuries unless they were using a product exactly as it came out of the box and exactly as described in the user manual. While it certainly strengthens your case if you were injured while using a device exactly as the manufacturer intended, you may still be eligible for compensation even if your injury occurred in another way.
Under the law, manufacturers are expected to foresee typical alternative uses for their products. A straightforward example of this is chairs. People are meant to be seated in chairs with good posture, but it takes very little imagination to consider other ways people may likely use a chair. They could recline and put their feet up on a desk. They might use it to prop open a door. They may even stand on a chair to reach a higher place. Chances are good that many of us have used chairs in these ways, and manufacturers are expected to address these types of typical alternative uses as they design products.
#3: You Don’t Have a Case If You’ve Modified or Altered a Product
Just as we find alternative uses for everyday products, we often modify products that we buy in typical, foreseeable ways. If a fragile piece breaks off, we may choose not to replace it. Children may place decorations on toys, such as drawings, stickers, ribbons, etc. We may remove certain tags and labels if they interfere with normal use of a product.
While it certainly strengthens your case if the product that injured you was in pristine factory condition, using a consumer product with modifications or alterations does not always disqualify you from receiving compensation if that product caused you harm.
Hossley & Embry: Texas Product Liability Lawyers
As you can see, there is a lot of room for debate about what’s in a warranty and what might be a typical modification or alternative use compared to what might be outside of the norm. This is one of the reasons why it is important to talk to an attorney about your situation. At Hossley & Embry, we have handled hundreds of product liability lawsuits, and you can trust us to listen to your story and help you understand the law surrounding your case.
Call our offices at (866) 522-9265 or fill out a simple online form to request your free case evaluation if you have been injured or lost a loved one due to a defective product.
Schroeder, T. (2012, February). Consumer product-related injuries and deaths in the United States: Estimated injuries occurring in 2010 and estimated deaths occurring in 2008. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Retrieved from https://www.cpsc.gov/PageFiles/134720/2010injury.pdf
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.