Your Rights in Defective Products Cases
If you were injured by a defective product, it is important to know your legal rights. What type of claims can you bring? What types of damages can you seek? At Charles J. Argento, our experienced Houston personal injury attorney and support staff will help you evaluate your claims, determine the best path forward, collect the required evidence, and proceed through the investigation, settlement negotiation, and litigation process in a way that protects your rights and interests and ensures that you are able to recover the compensation that you are owed from the parties that caused your injury.
Types of Defective Products Lawsuits
The type of claim and lawsuit you are able to bring after being injured by a defective product depends on the circumstances of your case and the nature of the product that caused the injury. The different types of claims have different elements of proof and require different types of evidence in order to both prove your claims and maximize your recovery. Broadly speaking, defective products cases fall into a few categories, including design defect, manufacturing defect, failure to warn, and pharmaceutical defect.
Design defect cases require proving that the manufacturer of the product designed the product defectively and dangerously when they could have used a better, safer alternative to serve the same function. Design defect cases might include toys that present a risk of choking, guns that have faulty safety designs, or cars with brakes or accelerators that do not adequately protect the driver.
Manufacturing defects concern the process used to build the product as opposed to the product as designed. These cases are for situations where production or quality control failed. They are common in the vehicle industry, where manufacturers may fail to install devices like airbags or brakes appropriately or properly ensure that a gas tank is not susceptible to rupture, and a malfunction causes injury. You may have to sue several companies along the manufacturing chain to determine who is responsible for the defect.
Failure to warn cases are those where a product serves a function appropriately as designed, but the product itself is dangerous or easy to misuse, and the manufacturer fails to warn customers about the dangers. Drugs that do not warn about side effects or appliances that carry the undisclosed risk of fire or electric shock fall into this category. Tobacco cases used this theory as well.
Pharmaceutical defects are similar to failure to warn cases in that they involve a failure to disclose information to the FDA or to the public. If a product was not approved by the FDA, its approval was revoked, or the defendants advertised the product for a purpose not approved by the FDA, the company is liable for any harm the product causes. Likewise, if a pharmaceutical company fails to disclose side effects or otherwise makes misrepresentations to the FDA, and the product causes you harm, you can sue.
Available Damages in Product Defect Cases
If you were injured by a defective product, you may have suffered from a variety of injuries. Texas law allows you to pursue claims for different types of damages. Damages in a personal injury lawsuit generally fall into three categories: economic damages, noneconomic damages, and punitive damages.
Economic damages include those that you can attach a specific dollar value to, or a reasonable approximation thereof. Economic damages include the following:
- Medical expenses already paid;
- Estimated future medical costs, such as future surgeries, rehabilitation, and physical therapy;
- Lost wages, i.e., from missing work or being forced to take lower-paying work due to injury;
- Lost future earning potential, if the auto accident has impaired you;
- Loss of household services, e.g., if your spouse is now responsible for chores you used to perform or you are forced to hire professional help to cook, clean, etc.
Noneconomic damages are those that are harder to attach a specific number to, but are very real nonetheless. Noneconomic damages include:
- Pain and suffering, both past and future;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of companionship, such as when a spouse is killed by a defective product;
- Physical impairment or disability;
Punitive damages are damages that go beyond compensating you for the harm you suffered and instead are intended to punish the person who injured you in order to deter others from behaving as they did.
Punitive damages are available if the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious, such as where they knew of a dangerous product defect and consciously chose to neither fix the problem nor warn consumers about the danger. If they knew and ignored the risks of their conduct, and you suffered “actual” (economic and noneconomic) damages as described above, you may be entitled to a multiplier of your “actual” damages. Texas law caps available punitive damages at the greater of:
- Twice the value for economic damages as found by the jury; or
- An amount equal to the non-economic damages found by the jury, up to a maximum of $750,000.
The dedicated Houston defective product attorney Charles J. Argento can help you maximize your available damages to ensure that you get the compensation you are owed and that the people responsible for your injury pay for the harm they have caused.
Help is Available after a Defective Product Injury in Houston
For assistance getting the damages you deserve after being injured by a dangerous product in Texas, contact Houston product liability attorney Charles J. Argento & Associates for a free consultation at 713-225-5050.