Whether you work in Texas manufacturing, distribution or sales, if a consumer claims to have suffered an injury because of a product, he or she may decide to take the issue to court. If a plaintiff in a product liability case names you as a defendant, things may get worse before they get better. It’s imperative that you be as informed and prepared as possible when you step into a courtroom.
The more knowledge you have about “privity of contract,” product defects considered grounds for filing a personal injury claim, negligence and other pertinent issues, the better able you’ll be to present a strong defense.
Things to know about privity of contract
In the past, a person filing a product liability claim had to prove to the court that the product in question sold in the marketplace and that a contractual relationship existed between himself or herself and the supplier of the product. Nowadays, a person who wishes to name you as a defendant in a product injury claim does not necessarily have to be the same person who originally purchased the product.
However, if, for instance, you sold an item to a person at a garage sale, it does not automatically follow that you can be deemed liable for a product defect in the item that resulted injury to the person who bought the item at your sale. In most cases, only someone in direct chain of supply, such as a manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, etc., can be accountable under strict liability requirements.
Some products are inherently dangerous
If you are named as a defendant in a product liability case, the court will want to know more about the exact product that the plaintiff claims caused damages. As part of the direct supply chain, you may produce or sell products that are, by nature, dangerous to use, in which case, regulations for proper warning labels and other safety measures would apply.
If a consumer disregards warning labels or misuses a product, the court is not likely going to be convinced that a manufacturer, salesperson or distributor should have to pay compensation for damages.
Did the plaintiff alter the product?
Another issue that often arises during product liability proceedings has to do with product alteration. You might manufacture or sell a product that contains proper labeling and zero defects. If a consumer buys the product, alters it, then suffers injury because of the alterations, you should not be held accountable for those injuries.
Being named as a defendant in a Texas product liability case is a stressful experience. The more you know ahead of time regarding your rights as a manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor or retailer, as well as how to protect those rights in court, the better able you’ll be to mitigate the circumstances and present a strong defense.